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Hauschild goes from swing vote to party vote on gun legislation in St. Paul

Sooner or later newly elected Sen. Grant Hauschild (DFL - Hermantown) was going to have to make a decision on gun control. Coming from a district where guns are commonplace in most homes, Hauschild may have upset his election apple cart by towing the party line.

The two laws coming down the pipe are universal background checks and red-flag laws. A third law that would have required gun owners to separately lock up their ammunition and guns was shot down, apparently by Hauschild.

Now word has come out that the all-DFL Senate, House and Governor have reached an agreement between themselves to pass gun restrictions yet this session. Hauschild was one of three senators in the 34-33 DFL controlled Senate that could stop the legislation.

In an exclusive interview with Gray’s Minnesota State Capitol Reporter Quinn Gorham on, Hauschild explained his decision:

“I came to the conclusion that we have to do something. There have been far too many school shootings. There has been far too much gun violence in our streets. And so background checks and the extreme risk protection orders made sense to make sure that we are addressing these where we can.”

Gorham: “What prompted you to finally make that decision?”

Hauschild: “I’ve had a lot of conversations with folks in the district about the need to do something. I’ve talked to sheriffs and police, talking about their hands being tied when families reach out to them about concerns they have with those that they live with perhaps being a threat to themselves or others. We have to be able to give the tools to law enforcement to address those concerns. Equally, I’ve heard from mothers concerned about dropping their kids off at school. I’m a father, I have a three-year-old and a one-year-old, and I can’t look my kids in the eye and tell them that there’s nothing that we could do to address gun violence and school shootings.”

Gorham: “Why was that not a decision that you came to sooner? Why did it take you some time to make that decision?”

Hauschild: Well, the way that I go about all legislation is that I want to have thoughtful conversations with my constituents and get a gauge of where folks are at. You know, in those conversations, many law enforcement individuals in our district mentioned that they needed better tools in order to address these concerns. There are a lot of concerns around ghost guns and straw purchases, and background checks will help us address that issue. I needed to better understand where my district was at, where professionals and stakeholders were at that deal with these issues on a daily basis, and where families were at and I came to this conclusion through those conversations.”

The Senator represents a district that’s often seen as a politically mixed bag. Large parts of the Iron Range have deep-rooted union and labor ties, but often seek more conservative stances on issues like mining and guns.

Gorham: “Some might say you represent a sort of ‘purple district,’ the Iron Range being a hearty combination of red versus blue voters. Do you view yourself as a sort of ‘purple lawmaker’ in some senses?”

Hauschild: “Absolutely. I have to feel pressure on every single issue, given the dynamics in our district and being a tight district. And I think that makes me a better legislator. Having those tough conversations with all stakeholders on all sides of issues makes me a better senator. Not every legislator has to have those tough conversations. Many can make decisions based on their own feelings immediately, and I don’t have that luxury. But I don’t even see it that way. I see it as an opportunity for me to have thoughtful conversations with all stakeholders and come to the best conclusion that works not only for our state but more specifically for our region.”

Gorham: “Ultimately, how do you think your constituents will view this legislation and will view this decision?”

Hauschild: “I think they know that when we are considering these types of legislation, we can be gun owners and we can have the traditions that we have while doing the things that we need to do to keep our kids safe.”

Gorham: “Are you ready for some folks to be perhaps a little upset about that decision?”

Hauschild: “I think no matter what I do on any piece of legislation, there’s going to be folks that disagree with me and that’s okay. And I want to continue to have conversations with folks that maybe don’t necessarily agree with me on everything, because again, that makes me a better legislator.”

We’ve been watching Hauschild very closely this session to see if and how he would use his swing vote position to help our area. So far, he has been able to leverage dollars to be sent up north for a number of different projects.

This is a big policy decision. Similar to him cutting a deal on Social Security tax elimination where 76% of those taxed will see relief.

The real question: Will voters remember in ‘24?

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