National News

Minnesota Enacts New Regulations, Including ‘Red Flag Law,’ to Save Lives From Gun Violence

The Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul is pictured in a file photo. Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed into law two bills regulating gun safety May 19, 2023. (OSV News photos)

By Gina Christian

(OSV News) — New regulations enacted in Minnesota mark progress in addressing gun violence, but cultural and spiritual shifts are needed to stem the bloodshed, explained a Catholic policy advocate.

On May 19, Gov. Tim Walz, D-Minn., signed into law SF 2909, a public safety bill that includes universal background checks, a red flag law permitting law enforcement to intervene when a person is at high risk of injuring themselves or others with a firearm, and limits to “no-knock” warrants.

In addition, the bill allocates $43 million over four years to the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to combat violent crime, plus more than $197.2 million covering various initiatives for crime prevention, community engagement and juvenile justice.

The law also establishes an Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls to counter the disproportionate impact of gun violence on women of color in the U.S.

“As a veteran, gun owner, hunter and dad, I know basic gun safety isn’t a threat to the Second Amendment — it’s about keeping our kids safe,” Walz said in a May 19 statement. “There’s no place for weapons of war in our schools, churches, banks or anywhere else people are just trying to live their lives. Today is about taking meaningful action to create a safer future for our kids, and I am proud to sign this commonsense, life-saving legislation into law.”

The bill signing was a welcome surprise, Jason Adkins, executive director and general counsel of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, told OSV News.

Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, pictured in an undated photo, signed into law two bills regulating gun safety May 19, 2023. (OSV News photo)

Adkins noted that legislation regulating guns had not advanced with the Minnesota Legislature divided between Republicans in the state Senate and Democrats in the state House. Adkins observed that Democrats, who captured the Senate in the 2022 election, neither brought forward a gun violence bill in the previous legislative session nor did they make gun violence “a focus of their 2022 election campaign.”

However, Adkins said the gun regulation measure’s enactment “speaks to the importance of patient political organizing that perseveres through discouragement toward a goal, even through difficult political environments, so (as) to seize the moment when it arises.” At the same time, said Adkins, legislation alone cannot silence the gunfire taking lives in society — and insufficient progress has been made in implementing the spiritual solutions he has called for over the years.

“In our culture, people use violence to solve problems,” Adkins said. “That is a cultural and spiritual problem more than a political one, although good policies can make an impact, even at the margins.”

According to Minnesota health officials, homicides spiked in Minnesota in 2020, following a national trend, with firearms used in 65% of homicide deaths and 45% of suicide deaths. The overwhelming majority (75%) of gun-related deaths were due to suicide, with the American Indian population in the state having a 70% higher rate than the white population.

In Minneapolis, homicide rates soared by 166% from 2019 to 2022, with the number of gunshot victims rising 101% and shooting-related police calls up 133%.