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Emotions run high at second amendment town hall meeting

State Representative Roger Skraba (R) and Senator Nathan Wesenberg (R) try to get a member of the town hall meeting to calm down after the debate got heated. Photo by Parker Loew.

by Parker Loew

State Representative Roger Skraba (R) and Senator Nathan Wesenberg (R) hosted a town hall meeting on March 4 to discuss second amendment legislation with citizens from St. Louis County.

The crowd of 62 gathered at the Ely Senior Center was an even split of those in favor of gun control and those opposed.

Skraba began by telling the audience when it comes to gun control, he is comfortable with the current laws and doesn’t want to see further gun control implemented.

He explained how he tries to work across the aisle and has voted for multiple bills proposed by Democrats recently, but gun control is an issue he refuses to budge on.

Wesenberg then gave his two cents on the issue of gun control.

“The second amendment isn’t about hunting; it’s about protecting ourselves against tyranny,” Wesenberg said.

He went on to discuss red flag laws, universal background checks, and mandatory safe-storage gun laws and how he felt they punish law-abiding gun owners and does nothing to address the real problem.

“Criminals do not obey laws. How will passing a law help in this situation?” Wesenberg asked. “You can leave a gun on a table for a million years and it won’t shoot anybody.”

After Skraba and Wesenberg gave their stance on the issue, the executive director of Minnesota gun rights, Benjamin C. Dorr, came up to talk to the audience.

Dorr discussed how a gun bill currently making the rounds in Congress proposed by Democrats is about 15 gun laws packed into one, and would be a Trojan horse for further gun control.

At one point in his speech, Dorr referred to where he lived near Minneapolis as a “Liberal Hell hole” due to lack of policing to which a small uproar came from the crowd due to the divisiveness of the statement.

At this point, it had been around 35 minutes since the meeting began, and many audience members on the pro-gun-control side felt as if this was an anti-gun-control lobbyist convention and their opinions were not being heard.

“Are we ever going to be able to ask any questions or are we going to have to listen to this all day?” one of the pro-gun-control audience members asked to applause from others.

Skraba then opened the meeting up for questions and statements from the audience, and what followed was roughly 30 minutes of back and forth between pro-gun-control and anti-gun-control citizens.

At one point, Skraba told two people squabbling back and forth to, “Take it outside.”

At another point in the meeting, a pro-gun-control citizen called out Wesenberg for talking too much and how they were done listening to him, at which point Wesenberg left the meeting and stepped outside for 15 minutes to cool down.

The topic of second amendment legislation generates a lot of passion from both sides of the aisle, so it is no surprise some fireworks were produced.

While Skraba prides himself on trying to get Republicans and Democrats to work together, it is safe to assume no one’s mind was changed about guns at this town hall meeting.

While the debate about how to combat excessive gun violence remained unresolved, most everyone agreed it stemmed from a mental health crisis in the United States.

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