Students, Democrats urge action on gun control bills

Roosevelt High School student Ben Jaeger spoke at a Capitol press conference on March 26, 2018. Tim Nelson | MPR News

Some DFL state senators are hoping weekend rallies against gun violence in St. Paul and Washington D.C. can get gun bills moving again at the Capitol.

The said Monday they want the Senate to hold hearings on more than a dozen bills already introduced this year, including school safety measures, enhanced background checks, a bump stock ban, and an age limit on assault weapons.

A number of high school students joined with the lawmakers at a state Capitol news conference.

Henry Sibley High School freshman Lauren Youness said she’s disappointed that the Legislature doesn’t feel a sense of urgency.

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"I felt like we did a really good job at the march. We had so many numbers, and I was super empowered and I felt like we were going to do something. And now we’re back here, and like, we’re holding this meeting, but nothing seems to be happening yet. We’re working really hard, and we just really need to get this done."

Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, noted that Republicans have talked to him about an informational hearing, which would not include a vote. He said it is not too late to address the issue, even though a deadline passed last week for bills to clear at least one committee.

"I think we need more than an informational hearing. We need action this year, and there is time. The medical cannabis bill couple years ago was passed after all the deadlines had passed. When there is consensus and will to make something happen, there is a procedural basis to make something happen, as well."

A variety of gun measures have been introduced at the Capitol in the wake of the shootings at a school in Parkland Florida, but two measures were tabled in House committee earlier this month; and key committee chairs have said gun bills are not likely to pass this year.