Letter of Testimony: Protective order to prevent gun violence

Testimony of Mr. Jason Adkins, Executive Director
House Ways and Means Committee
Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division
HF 9 (Richardson)

The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, supports H.F. 9 (Richardson), which allows for the issuance of a protective order to prevent gun violence.  The legislation is a common-sense measure consistent with the principle that rights should be exercised responsibly.  It is time to put aside gun ideology and come together to protect the right to life.

There will be lots of testimony on both sides of this bill.  In our testimony, we seek to implore all parties in the gun debate to overcome “gun absolutism” and work for measures that may actually limit gun violence while also respecting legitimate gun ownership.  This bill is a step in that direction.

According to the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, there are approximately 350 million guns in circulation in the United States; 113 guns for every 100 persons. Almost two million children live with unlocked, loaded guns in their home, and one out of three homes with children has a gun. In 2014, 2,549 children (birth to 19 years) died by gunshots, and an additional 13,576 were injured.

Many proposed gun regulations will not significantly decrease gun deaths overall — most of which are suicides, followed by homicides in urban areas.

Nor will these regulations eliminate all acts of terrorism.  Mass shootings are not primarily about guns. These tragic events, shaped by our violent culture, are often born out of despair.  Hurt people hurt people.  The needed policy changes and moral renewal are more comprehensive than simply changing gun laws.

Yet, gun policy matters. Common-sense regulations to prevent the most tragic and needless acts of gun violence come with little cost and might save hundreds of lives per year.

In this instance, the legislation rightly focuses on the reality that in preventing harm to persons by guns, the mental health and disposition of a potential shooter matter more than the weapon—we want to prevent dangerous people from accessing weapons that can harm many people with ease and efficiency.

Though this may seem like an infringement on the freedom of some, the protection order is not permanent, and gun ownership can be restored.  Additionally, there is a measure of due process for those subject to a potential protection order.

Gun owners have rights, but they also have responsibilities to the common good.  The common good requires that we ensure that gun ownership is exercised responsibly and that people who are potential threats to themselves or others are disarmed.

Thank you for your consideration.

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