Obama Examines Minneapolis Violence Reduction as Gun Bill Model

Special to The Informer from McFarlane Media | 2/6/2013, 2:28 p.m.

"There is not one simple solution to ending gun violence, but all solutions are rooted in partnership. One of our greatest partners in the fight is President Obama, who supports law enforcement, understands the complexity of gun violence, and has the courage to seek out and implement solutions," said Harteau.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek also participated in the roundtable discussion with President Obama. Describing himself as a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, Stanek said the problem is one of access.

"Gun ownership isn't a privilege, it's a right guaranteed by the Constitution," said Stanek. "We have an access problem; people already prohibited by law from owning or buying a gun should never have access to firearms. We shouldn't impose on the rights of law abiding citizens to try to solve this problem. Gun control alone will not solve the complex problem of guns and extreme violence."

"We know that the mentally ill are no more likely to become violent than the general population, but when mental illness is untreated there is an increased risk of violence," said Stanek.

In Hennepin County, we book nearly 38,000 people into the jail annually with an estimated one-third suffering from mental illness.

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) said, "After suffering a shooting tragedy in our city only a few months ago, the residents of Minneapolis have rallied around common-sense reforms to keep our communities and our families safe from gun violence." Ellison was referring to the mass shooting at Access Signage Systems that killed six this past fall.

"In the wake of Newtown, Tucson, Aurora and so many others, we must find smart ways to prevent gun violence in every city in America. Today's forum with the President moves us closer to that goal," said Ellison.

At a packed community forum last week, Rep. Ellison announced he has invited Samir Rahamim, whose father was killed in the Accent Signage shooting last September in Minneapolis, to join him for the President's State of the Union address on Feb.12,. "Sami suffered a tragic lost. Yet he has stepped forward to make a difference in our community and our nation and I will be proud to have him as my guest at the State of the Union," said Rep. Ellison. "I hope his voice and activism will prevent another child from losing a family member to gun violence."

State Representative Raymond Dehn said, "It is an honor to have President Obama in town meeting with community leaders to discuss strategies aimed at preventing gun violence.

"Far too many Americans' lives are needlessly cut short by ongoing shootings, including six Minnesotans who were killed at Accent Signage, a company based in the district I represent.

"Sadly, our neighborhoods in north Minneapolis are no stranger to gun violence. Tragedies like the death of 3-year-old Terrell Mayes, who was killed by a stray bullet in late 2011, and 5-year-old Nizzel "Stewie" George, who was shot last summer as he slept on a couch at his grandmother's home will never be forgotten. We owe it to the parents and family members who lost loved ones to take action to reduce violence and keep our streets safe."

In Washington, D.C., Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and college presidents from across the country called for an end to gun violence.

Since the Newtown shooting , 350 college presidents who have come together through College Presidents for Gun Safety, as well as the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities (AAU) on behalf of its 60 university members, have signed a letter calling for political leaders to take concrete steps to prevent gun violence.

(Reported by Harry Colbert Jr., Contributing Editor, and Al McFarlane, Editor-in-Chief, Insight News)