The Gun Debate: Rights vs. Regulation

By KBJR News 1

May 6, 2013 Updated May 7, 2013 at 3:28 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The renewed push for gun control in the wake of recent tragic incidents has been nothing short of passionate, contentious and at times highly emotional.

But just last week, leaders in both the Minnesota House and Senate said despite the big focus on gun control, there won't be a vote on any gun bill before the legislative session adjourns in just a few weeks.

Tim Jezierski has one finger on the trigger, the other on the pulse of the gun debate at the State Capitol.

“Whether it's through Facebook, through reading different articles, news articles, news feeds. I've been following it very closely,” said Jezierski, a gun safety instructor in Two Harbors.

Jezierski was just one of hundreds who attended a three-day House committee hearing in St. Paul. But he never thought he'd find himself testifying.

“It's our right under the constitution to protect ourselves through the second amendment and the use of these guns,” Jezierski told the committee in February.

Passionate testimony for and against a number of proposed bills, ranging from a ban on assault rifles to restricting high capacity magazines.

Testimony included highly emotional stories like that of Joan Peterson of Duluth.

“My sister was shot in 1992 and so it took a while for me to find sort of my place in the work that I am now doing,” Peterson said.

Peterson is the Co-President of the Northland chapter of "Protect Minnesota", a state-wide organization fighting to end gun violence.

Peterson said her goal is to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.

"Make sure criminals, felons, adjudicated mentally ill people and domestic abusers don't get their guns,” she said.

The discussion at the Capitol was at times intense, on an issue with faces and names behind the statistics.

According to Protect Minnesota, 353 people died from gunshot wounds in Minnesota in 2010.

It's a debate that has strong feelings on both sides, but some say it's important to consider geographic differences and traditions in the debate.

"Metropolitan, large populations, are more likely to associate guns with crime and danger then rural people who would associate guns with traditions that we view as healthy lifestyles,” said David Zentner, an avid outdoorsman.

Zentner said often learning how to shoot gun along with gun safety is as common in the Northland as learning how to drive.

"It's finding sanctuary, pace of life, what we call, euphorically, quality of life,” he said.

A culture that doesn't come without its controversies.

Both sides say the debate will continue even after the legislative session adjourns.

“I knew this was going to be a very complex and contentious issue," said Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-St. Paul). There is not one simple solution. Gun control is one piece of the problem."

Protect Minnesota said the state has one of the lower rates of gun deaths in the US. They attribute that to the current state background check law.

While many oppose stricter gun controls, they do stress gun safety. We'll take a closer look at that Tuesday night at ten.

Kevin Jacobsen
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