Daily Digest: Gun rights advocates rally and remarks draw criticism

Good morning and welcome to a new week. Start it off right with your Daily Digest.

1. Hundreds rally at Capitol for gun rights ahead of hearings. Bill Jungbauer leaned over the railing crowning the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda, his hands grasping a flag that read, "Don't tread on me." "As our Founding Fathers said, the loss of our liberty is only a generation away," he said. "We all have to continue to stand up for it." Jungbauer, of Inver Grove Heights, was among hundreds of people who rallied at the Capitol Saturday against gun-control measures moving through the Legislature. The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus organized the event, which drew people of all ages from across the state, along with a slew of legislators and activists. "There's a lot of us in this room that have had enough, and it's time to start riding herd on the rest of these people that want to take your rights away from you," Rep. Cal Bahr, R-East Bethel, told the crowd. "They will not go quietly into the good night. They need to be kicked to the curb and stomped on and run over a few times." Democrats in the state House pledged early this session that two gun-control measures would be among their top priorities this year. The bills, and similar legislation in the Senate, would expand criminal background checks in firearms sales to cover private sellers and adopt a "red flag" law that would allow relatives or law enforcement to petition a court to remove firearms from people deemed to be a danger to others or themselves. (Star Tribune)

2. Rally comments draw governor's criticism. Gov. Tim Walz released a statement Sunday condemning comments made by Rep. Cal Bahr, R-East Bethel, during a Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus rally at the Capitol on Saturday. Walz said Bahr’s comments risked inciting violence. Bahr is a member of the New House Republicans caucus, a group that recently broke off from the House GOP caucus. He is a small business owner serving his second term. Walz is a supporter of two proposals expected to get hearings in the House public safety committee this week: universal background checks for firearm purchases and a “red flag” law that would allow police to take guns from people deemed dangerous. “Encouraging violence endangers our communities and undermines our democracy, particularly when the statement is made by an elected official,” Walz said about Bahr’s comments. “While heated debates are a healthy part of the political process, this type of language is unacceptable and demands condemnation from people of all political parties.” (Pioneer Press)

3. Klobuchar shifts stance on recreational marijuana. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she now supports legalizing recreational marijuana, a full turn from her stance on the issue from when she first entered the public arena. Klobuchar, a third-term senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement released Friday that she supports recreational marijuana and believes “that states should have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders.” The position puts her in line with several other Democrats seeking the party’s 2020 nomination. But it is a complete evolution from her first campaign for office. She flatly opposed legalization as a candidate for Hennepin County attorney 20 years ago. (MPR News)

4. Klobuchar staff treatment scrutinized. Senator Amy Klobuchar was hungry, forkless and losing patience. An aide, joining her on a trip to South Carolina in 2008, had procured a salad for his boss while hauling their bags through an airport terminal. But once onboard, he delivered the grim news: He had fumbled the plastic eating utensils before reaching the gate, and the crew did not have any forks on such a short flight. What happened next was typical: Ms. Klobuchar berated her aide instantly for the slip-up. What happened after that was not: She pulled a comb from her bag and began eating the salad with it, according to four people familiar with the episode. Then she handed the comb to her staff member with a directive: Clean it. The moment — an abridged version of which Ms. Klobuchar recounted herself in a speech to fellow Democrats at the time — encapsulates the underside of life on the Minnesota senator’s team, detailed in interviews with more than two dozen former staff members and internal emails reviewed by The New York Times. As Ms. Klobuchar joins the 2020 presidential race, many of these former aides say she was not just demanding but often dehumanizing — not merely a tough boss in a capital full of them but the steward of a work environment colored by volatility, highhandedness and distrust. (New York Times)

5. Joining the Super Tuesday crowd. Minnesota will be part of the Super Tuesday scramble in next year’s presidential nominating contest with its primary set to happen on March 3, 2020. The date was confirmed Friday, a week before the state’s political parties were required to alert the Secretary of State’s Office about calendar plans and whether they wanted to shift the date. “That’s done. That’s signed, sealed, delivered,” said Minnesota Republican Party executive director Kevin Poindexter. At least nine other states from coast-to-coast will hold votes on that day, with several other states eyeing it as they set their schedules. The most notable Super Tuesday states are California and Texas, which have the most national convention delegates at stake. (MPR News)


Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.