What We Do
Protect Minnesota promotes a culture of health and safety for all Minnesotans by preventing gun violence
through research, legislation, education, and community investment.
In partnership with other gun violence prevention organizations, advocacy groups and law enforcement, Protect Minnesota promotes preventive policy solutions to gun violence and mobilizes our members to work for common- sense legislative reform. Our current legislative priorities are:
1) Blocking a host of really dangerous bills that are “locked and loaded” in committee at the state legislature, waiting to be reintroduced during the 2017 legislative session. These include “permit-less carry,” Stand Your Ground, and a bill that would make it ILLEGAL for state agents to enforce any federal gun safety legislation in Minnesota– including the National Firearms Act, which prohibits the sale of fully automatic weapons and explosives. We also expect to see a push for “permit reciprocity” and bills that would ban gun free zones introduced this session. We will need the voice and support of every Minnesotan who recognizes the need for common sense gun laws to help us block these dangerous bills. Please JOIN US today so we can keep you informed of developments.
2) Closing the background check loopholes that enable felons, domestic abusers and other legally prohibited individuals to purchase guns from unlicensed dealers, at gun shows, and online without a criminal background check. The buyers of up to 40% of guns purchased in the US evade background checks through these means. Our #1 priority is passing legislation that would mandate criminal background checks before ALL gun purchases.
3) Creating Gun Violence Protective Orders, also called “Red Flag Orders”, so that family members and law enforcement officers can have firearms temporarily removed from the possession of individuals who are exhibiting signs of dangerous mental illness, until they get the help they need.
4) Removing prohibitions in state law against the collection of data about gun violence and gun deaths which prevent law makers from having the information they need to make informed decisions about gun safety.
5) Raising the minimum age to purchase or possess a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon in Minnesota from 18 to 21, while working to establish a federal ban on assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and other weapons of war.
6) Supporting public-health legislation that would PREVENT gun violence before it occurs.
Between 75-80% of gun deaths in Minnesota are the result of suicide, which take place disproportionately in suburban and rural counties of the state. Over 95% of gun suicide victims in Minnesota are white, and most are male. Although depression and addiction are important factors in suicide, anyone living in a home with a gun has 3 times the risk of dying by suicide compared to those who live in homes without guns.
“Red flag” laws and comprehensive background checks in other states have been shown to reduce gun suicide rates by up to 48%, but education is also vital to saving lives. An important mission of Protect Minnesota is to work with mental health, suicide prevention and public health professionals to create materials tailored to faith communities, the LGBT community, gun owners, veterans and licensed gun dealers to educate families about the need to get help for–and keep guns away from–those vulnerable to suicide.
Raising Awareness about Urban Gun Violence
Black Americans account for 55% of gun homicide victims but make up just 13% of the population. Black men account for nearly half of all gun homicide victims, but make up just 6% of the population. Black men are 10 times more likely to be shot and killed than white men. Gun violence is the leading cause of death of young black men. These tragic statistics are largely attributed to entrenched urban gun violence.
Historical trauma, systemic racism, economic and educational disparities, high incarceration rates–all these factors contribute to entrenched urban gun violence. Urban gun violence is defined by neighborhood boundaries, and in most afflicted communities, only a tiny fraction of the population is engaged in criminal activities. Unfortunately, all members of the community suffer the ill effects.
As complicated and deep-rooted as urban gun violence is, there are solutions. Multiple recent reports have shown that strong gun trafficking laws, when combined with sustained community investment and effective intervention, can significantly reduce entrenched urban gun violence. At Protect Minnesota, our goal is to raise awareness about the complex relationship between racial and economic disparities and gun violence, and partner with community stakeholders, policy makers and law enforcement to create solutions.
Public Health Information
Hunting is a proud tradition in Minnesota, and generations of hunters have passed down a legacy of locked and secure storage and other safety practices. But nearly 70% of gun owners now purchase firearms for “personal protection” — usually handguns– and keep these weapons loaded where they can reach them quickly to defend their families. Ironically, an unsecured gun in the home is 22 times more likely to injure or kill a family member than an outside intruder.
Through our bi-annual Northstar Public Health Conference on Gun Violence, numerous presentations, and advocacy workshops, Protect Minnesota educates professionals from all sectors, people of faith, parents and youth about gun violence as a public health issue which has public health solutions.
Keeping Kids Safe
As parents we do everything we can to keep our kids safe. And yet, hundreds of children die, are injured, and even kill others with guns every year. These entirely PREVENTABLE tragedies take place when children find unsecured and loaded guns in vehicles, their own homes or the homes of friends or family members. Because no family should suffer the pain of losing a beloved child to gun violence, Protect Minnesota teaches gun owners how to store their guns safely and parents how to ask about unsecured guns in the home before allowing their children to visit other households. We also champion the Student Pledge Against Gun Violence for school-aged children and youth.
Making Resources Available
The gun lobby uses a lot of false data to convince law makers that “guns make us safer” — much of it attributed to a charlatan named John Lott and his “Crime Prevention Research Center.” (Ted Nugent is Secretary of the Board of Directors.) Thankfully, despite the CDC ban and state data collection prohibitions, many prominent academics have devoted their careers to studying gun violence and publishing reputable, peer-reviewed research. Protect Minnesota seeks to make this information available to policy makers, legislators and the public through presentations and online resources. Our Director of Research and volunteer researchers also do original data analysis about gun ownership and gun violence in Minnesota.