The White House has praised Minneapolis for a youth violence initiative the city launched in 2008 that has had success. And a bipartisan push by sheriffs in Minnesota to improve the state's background check system for gun buyers—including speeding up the input of felony and drug convictions, along with mental-health court orders—has also piqued administration interest.In September, Minneapolis was the site of a mass shooting that killed six and ended with the shooter's suicide. But it's also a place where, over the past five years, there's been a 41 percent decrease in the youths injured by gun violence.
"If you want to get right down to it, we have an access problem," said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, a Republican who is backing the push for bolstering background checks. "Those who should not have guns is what we should focus on."
The president's visit comes as the Democratic Farm Labor-controlled state Legislature begins debate this week on a slew of proposals to change gun regulations, including bills calling for a statewide ban on assault weapons and a limit on the size of ammunition clips.
On the eve of this trip taking Obama's push on gun safety out into the states, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre did something that can only aid the effort: he kept talking. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, LaPierre argued that universal background checks weren't actually universal and therefore shouldn't be attempted at all and that every gang member in Chicago should be imprisoned. No racist dog whistles at all in the idea that "legal gun owners" shouldn't have to deal with background checks while every gang member in Chicago should be thrown straight into prison, right? He even spurred host Chris Wallace to one of his occasional acts of journalism; when LaPierre defended the notorious ad targeting the president's daughters, Wallace responded "Do you really think the president's children are the same kind of target as every school child in America? That's ridiculous and you know it, sir."
This is the choice: Barack Obama as the face of modestly strengthened laws on things like making it harder for dangerous people to get guns, or Wayne LaPierre as the face of attacks on the idea that the president's daughters should be kept safe.