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Local View: Allowing more Minnesotans to freely carry guns seems unwise

Mike Keefe/Cagle Cartoons

A "permitless carry" bill went before the state House this session, promising essentially to repeal much of Minnesota's existing gun permit law and, as it states, to provide "for the right to carry without a permit; providing for an optional permit to carry."

Maury StrandI don't believe it would be a wise move to allow anyone who appears to be an adult to freely carry a gun out on the streets ("Permitless gun carry bill draws debate in Minnesota Legislature," March 9).

The measure was supported by the NRA and its favored legislators. For decades I was a member of the National Rifle Association and had its conspicuous round insignia on my cars and trucks. I was even enrolled into the "National Rifle Association of America Millennium Honor Roll." It wasn't that I thought the NRA and its members had some ill intent when I decided to discontinue my membership; it was because of the evermore unlikeable image of the NRA to many people. An organization that used to mostly represented hunters and sport shooters, and even wildlife conservation has become a spokesperson for the manufacturers and marketers of military-like assault weapons. If you want to see this trend, just go to a gun show and see all the black and camouflaged semi-automatics that are replacing the aesthetically appealing guns with contoured fine wooden stocks and elegant inlays and engraving. These new quasi-machine guns have all sorts of unusual configurations and often are collapsible to be more easily concealed. The guns displayed at shows more and more like those in news photos of confiscated gang weapons.

Another sad aspect with the NRA: after every major shooting tragedy, out comes its leader, Wayne LaPierre, to warn us that the Constitution will be in jeopardy if some sensible legislation to reduce gun violence is passed.

The gun-control debate is now included in the ever-deepening societal and political divide. In Minnesota, it also is in the worsening urban-rural legislative debate.

I do not agree with the idea that, "If the good guys are all armed, they can shoot the bad guys." I just prefer to leave the bad guys to law enforcement, trained security professionals, and carefully permitted gun carriers. I think then the rest of us would be less likely to get caught up in the bullets of good-guy-bad-guy gunfire.

Thankfully, fully automatic machine guns have been made illegal for private ownership. A semiauto that can fire as fast as the trigger can be pulled is adequate to protect the homes and the liberties of those who are so concerned.

Congressman Rick Nolan said it best in his 2014 debate in Duluth with Republican candidate Stewart Mills: "I don't need an assault rifle to shoot a duck." Mills might have us believe gun restrictions are the greatest threat to freedom in America. We saw how that went over with 8th District voters.

The stated purpose of the permitless carry bill in St. Paul is public safety. But this will not be achieved by having even more gun carriers who won't bother with gun-safety training or the permitting process or who may be mentally ill.

Statistics notwithstanding, even an occasional widely reported "accident" — such as the Target shopper wounded when another customer's gun went off or the horror of the Walmart shopper whose child got the pistol out of her purse and killed himself — has even more of us deciding we would prefer not to have guns casually carried around by the firearms-inept. It also defies logic to pretend that evermore pervasive guns will reduce the incidence of bar and road-rage shootings and urban gunfights.

The proposed law in Minnesota would have other adverse effects: Even more of those annoying, black-and-white "guns not allowed" signs would crop up. More potential visitors might think Minnesota is returning to gunslinging Wild-West days. The perception could grow stronger that we gun owners aren't satisfied to have our guns safely at home, out with us hunting, or at a safe shooting range. And it certainly would not enhance our image of "Minnesota Nice."

With an astonishing 32 authors on the bill, it may not be easy to get more of them to join the two who withdrew their authorship. I hope common sense will prevail, and the Legislature will just leave well enough alone and drop this needless measure.

Maury Strand of Duluth is a former member of the National Rifle Association.