By Marit Brock
The debate around the role of guns in our culture often happens right in our own homes. How many of us had a conversation with a relative about politics or guns over the recent holidays? I used to dread those discussions as too divisive and impossible to resolve. However, as a gun violence survivor and a founding member of the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, I realized that I had to wade into some uncomfortable situations in order to change our culture around guns.
I have learned that there is a lot of common ground. Nearly all of us can agree that we want to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them — specifically criminals, those with illness that makes them a danger to themselves and others, and children. When we start from this point of common ground, we can then identify evidence-based solutions to keep our communities safe.
This can be hard work, but there are two recent statistics that keep me motivated to do this work:
• The #1 cause of death for Minnesota children is guns. I am a mother, and this statistic is unacceptable to me. We must find solutions that will keep our kids safe. [Source: Children/teens source: CDC, Fatal Injury Reports, five-year average: 2013-2017. Leading cause of death: CDC, Fatal Injury Report, 2017.]
• Nearly 4 of 5 gun deaths in Minnesota are by suicide. We talk about mass shooting or city gun violence but ignore the pain of hundreds of Minnesotans who die by gun suicide each year. Most of those who die by gun suicide are white men, like my brother, who find an answer to their pain at the end of a gun rather than finding help. [Suicide source: CDC, Fatal Injury Reports, five-year average: 2013-2017.]
The St. Paul chapter of Moms Demand Action is busy and always looking for more members. Some of our volunteer work includes:
• Promote adult responsibility for keeping kids safe from guns: The Be SMART program is a gun safety program for adults specifically designed to keep guns out of the hands of children. This program is being presented at schools, churches and community centers around St. Paul in the coming months. Please consider attending or hosting a Be SMART presentation.
• Change Minnesota laws: It is too easy for those who shouldn’t have guns to buy them in Minnesota today. We support a law that will require criminal background checks on all gun sales and close the loophole that allows private sales with no background check. We also support a “Red Flag” law that would allow law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from homes during a health crisis. Minnesota families caring for elderly parents with dementia report terrifying stories of the guns in their parent’s homes. This law would ease that risk.
• Develop community and law enforcement solutions: We support gun violence interruption programs such as those recently funded by the city of St. Paul, and we urge law enforcement to enforce existing laws such as safe gun storage and the Domestic Violence Surrender law.
My work to end gun violence in Minnesota has taught me that we all care about our community. I know there is more that brings us together than that separates us, and that we do not need to fear our neighbors. It starts with conversations with the people we care about and the commitment to make a better world for our children. Please join us:
• St Paul chapter meeting: Saturday, February 8, 10:30 – 12 noon at Rondo library community room.
• Welcome Back to the Capitol event: Tuesday, February 11, 10:30 a.m. Come and give a loud Welcome Back to Minnesota’s Representatives and Senators as they start their first day of the 2020 session. From day one, they need to hear from all the gun sense voices across our state.
Marit Brock is a founding member of the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She lives with her family in the Little Bohemia Neighborhood.
By Marit Brock