Gun rights supporters optimistic

With a Republican-dominated House, gun advocates plan to pass new laws this session.

Christopher Aadland

Advocates and lawmakers supporting pro-gun laws are hoping to take advantage of a more favorable political landscape this legislative session.

Members of the Republican-controlled House have already introduced or plan to introduce bills that could expand the rights of gun owners in Minnesota. Lobbying groups showed their support for these measures at the Capitol on Monday.

More than 200 people gathered at the Capitol to rally for expanded gun rights, and afterward met with legislators from their districts. The Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance and the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee organized the demonstration.

In recent years, supporters of gun ownership rights focused on fighting legislation that would restrict gun ownership, said Andrew Rothman, president of GOCRA, but a new political landscape allows them to further push for supportive gun laws.

“We’re no longer going to idly sit back and play defense,” Bryan Strawser, executive director of the MNGOPAC said Monday. “We’re going to go on the offense.”

Already, three bills supporting gun rights have been introduced in the House since the start of the legislative session.

Some lawmakers also attended the event to show support for Second Amendment rights, including House Speaker, Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, who gave a speech promising to protect gun owners’ rights.

“Not only do you have a new majority that stands strongly behind you,” he said. “We’re also sportsmen. We participate in the long history and long tradition in Minnesota of hunting, fishing and bearing arms.”

Greg and Donna Gulden, business owners from Nowthen, Minn., attended the event to support the right to bear arms. Both said they’ve spent a lot of time at the Capitol in past years to show support or disapproval of proposed laws affecting the use of firearms.

“I’ve carried in many places, and it’s never been a problem, and you can say that about most of the people here,” Donna Gulden said.

Greg Gulden said law-abiding citizens should be spared from any legislation impacting gun rights.

“My guns have never hurt anybody,” he said.

Some of the proposed legislation includes making permits to carry a pistol issued in North Dakota valid in Minnesota and legalizing scopes on muzzle-loading firearms. 

“We’ve got a stronger group of gun supporters than we’ve had before,” Rep. Tony Cornish, R- Vernon Center, said. “It’s going to be a bad year for … any gun-grabbing group that wants to pass legislation.”