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Gun debate migrates from Capitol to TV airwaves

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A group seeking new gun restrictions in Minnesota and other states released three TV ads Tuesday that it planned to run between now and the end of the Legislature’s session in about two weeks.

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is trying to step up pressure for a vote on two gun control bills that have been stalled since March. Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt has said they lack support to pass.

One of the ads features a mother who is described as a gun owner from Isanti, in Daudt’s district. In the ad, the woman says she’s worried about her son’s safety.

“Nobody is coming to take my guns away,” the woman, Stacy Ellens, says. “I think the heart of it is just keeping guns away from dangerous people.”

The other two feature compilations of high school students and Twin Cities law enforcement officials calling for action on background check legislation. The other bill that failed to gain traction this year would make it easier to confiscate firearms from people deemed to be a threat.

Public records show that Everytown paid about $160,000 to air the spots between now and May 20 on Twin Cities network television and cable stations. In all, there will be more than 500 total airings.

In a news release, Erin Zamoff of the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said it’s time to act.

“From Florida to Vermont to Kansas, lawmakers in other states have closed deadly gaps in their gun laws this year, and we’ll be safer when our leaders in St. Paul do, too,” Zamoff said.

Rob Doar, vice president and political director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, said the “out-of-state funded ads continue to show the fallacy of the ‘gun show loophole.’ They also overlook the burdens placed on law-abiding gun owners by overreaching legislation that will not keep firearms out of the hands of people they are actually seeking to disarm.”

The ad purchase is another indication that the gun issue could figure prominently in the fall campaigns, regardless of whether any bills pass before the Legislature adjourns. The governor’s office and the Minnesota House are on the November ballot, but the state Senate is not.

Republican leaders of the House and Senate say this year's focus is on fortifying school security, either with added physical features or more counselors to help troubled students before they act out.