Stephen VenableI’m envious of our Minnesota legislators this session.
See, I have two boys, and each night at dinner I try to make my job as a corporate lawyer sound as exciting as possible. I tell them of phone calls I’ve had with people in exotic places like Chicago, New York and Dallas. Usually, their eyes start to glaze over a bit.
This session our legislators have a chance to go home and tell their kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews or neighbors that in their job, they were heroes, maybe even superheroes. We all know superheroes save lives. And this session our legislators are considering two gun safety bills that do just that; they save lives.
The Legislature is considering two bills, one that would expand Minnesota’s criminal background check law to cover all gun sales, including private sales arranged online or at gun shows, and a second that would provide for guns to be taken from an individual who has been shown to be an extreme risk to himself or others.
Consistent and effective in reducing deaths
We continue to see data that expanded criminal background check laws are consistent and effective in reducing gun deaths. In some cases, in other states that have passed similar measures, gun deaths have been reduced by up to 40 percent, and states with these laws have seen reductions in many different forms of gun violence, including homicides, suicides and officer involved shootings. Data is still being collected on extreme risk protection orders, but early studies have shown they are significant in reducing gun suicides, which are the leading form of gun death in Minnesota.
When I talk about heroes with my boys I tell them about my dad, Billy Venable, and my younger brother Bill. They were both shot and killed in a random home invasion 15 years ago.
My dad was a high school football and wrestling coach, a larger than life figure for me. I got to see how much his players and students admired him — but he was my dad. He was my hero before he died protecting our family.
My brother was a 17-year-old kid with everything in front of him. Bill had just finished his senior football season, playing for my dad, and he had just been accepted to college. He was fun-loving and good-hearted, offering free hugs, for a dollar. He was the baby of our family, in the best way possible, but in his last act, racing to defend our dad, he became my hero.
Not a unique story
My story is not unique. In Minnesota, we have more than one death a day due to gunshot. Nationally, that number is almost 100. The circumstances of shootings may vary, but the conclusion is the same. We have too many gun deaths; too many fallen heroes.
We need more champions on gun safety issues — more who are willing to take a stand against a lobby whose leadership seems intent only on selling more firearms, rather than considering their impact.
Last fall voters in Minnesota, led by groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, made gun safety a leading issue in our midterm elections. The results were clear. Minnesota elected a House of Representatives committed to enacting gun safety legislation.
So, now legislators, the opportunity is yours.
Better yet, be superheroes.
I’ll tell my boys about you.
Stephen Venable is an attorney and a Fellow for the Everytown Survivor Network. He lives in Minneapolis with his two sons.
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