Remember the bloodbath that Minnesota was in 1973 and before?
I remember the episode in November of 1971, in rural Hitterdahl, Minnesota, about 20 miles west of Detroit Lakes. Oscar Gundersson, a plumber and handyman, was playing bridge with his wife Trina and their farmer neighbors, Rolf and Edna Berndsen. Oscar though Edna had cheated on a hand. Being a second-generation Norwegian-American, he skipped straight past accusation, anger and argument, and pulled a pistol from his overalls, shooting the woman. Then, anxious to kill all witnesses, he shot Rolf and, finally, his wife, before jumping in his car and driving toward the Canadian border in a killing spree that left six additional dead and ended with Gundersson living in Indonesia, scoffing at the law.
Or the sad episode of Ruth Slorbie, who was shopping with her husband, Olaf, at the downtown Minneapolis Daytons in October 1970. Weary of waiting in lines, she pulled a revolver from her purse and, according to a Minneapolis Star article, calmly executed six people who got in her way, calmly “changing clips” as she wandered from department to department, her husband indolently shuffling behind her holding bags of purchased merchandise, until the police responded.
Er…wait. None of those happened.
Before 1974, Minnesota did not require the law-abiding citizen to have a permit of any type to carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise.
You may recall – Minnesota was a pretty low-crime state, back then. Of course, being a Democrat-dominated state, when the winds of Political Correctness bade the left to restrict guns back in the seventies, at the Second Amendment’s legal and social nadir, Minnesota followed suit – for no real empirical reason, of course. Which is, of course, a common thread among most gun-control legislation, and all such rules that affect only the law-abiding; none are ever supported by evidence.
Minnesota became a “may issue” state in 1974 – carry permits were issued entirely on the whim of local police chiefs, meaning that the law-abiding citizen’s Second Amendment rights were subjected entirely to the whim of their local police chief. Police chiefs in Greater Minnesota issued permits pretty liberally; in the Metro, it was entirely based on political connections; law-abiding citizens were routinely turned down, while pals of cops and local pols could get permits even with lengthy criminal records. The chief of Bloomington’s police department famously said that nobody in Bloomington really needed a permit, but made sure his wife – alone among the city’s women – was issued one.
MInnesota rolled part-way back, ten years ago, with the passage of our “shall-issue” law; there are currently nearly 160,000 permits active in Minnesota, nearly double the number estimated in 2003.
But what if we rolled the laws back even further? To 1973?
Last week Senator Branden Peterson and Representative Steve Drazkowski introduced a bill that would do just that; institute “constitutional carry” in Minnesota. A law-abiding citizen would require no state permit to exercise their constitutional right to carry a firearm in a safe, responsible manner. It’d give us the same law as Vermont, Arizona, Alaska and Wyoming.
It’s an utterly symbolic proposal at this point, of course; the bill was introduced after the committee deadline, and even if it hadn’t been, it would have had no chance of passage with a DFL-controlled legislature and governor. At a time when Michael Bloomberg is buying astro-turf groups to push genuine, bad restrictions in a legislature currently controlled by the DFL, it’d be misplaced to spend a whole lot of energy on it.
But kudos to Senator Peterson and Representative Drazkowski for firing a shot, as it were, across the DFL’s bow. Here’s to more in a friendlier future.