Communities of Color Oppose NRA Bill – Stand Together at March 12 Press Conference


Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence

and The Organizing Apprenticeship Project

MARCH 11, 2013

Contact:  Leroy Duncan, community organizer, Protect Minnesota


Communities of Color Oppose Rep. Hilstrom/NRA Gun Bill: News Conference March 12 11 a.m.

ST. PAUL – Leaders representing communities of color will gather Tuesday to oppose a bill introduced by State Representative Deb Hilstrom and NRA leaders last week.  The Organizing Apprenticeship Project, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Shiloh Temple International Ministries, New Salem Baptist Church, Joint Heirs in Christ Ministries and other groups will be joined by elected officials, citizens and a fast-growing coalition of gun violence prevention groups.  The groups will urge DFL leaders to oppose any bill with language enacting mandatory minimum sentencing, creating new felony crimes unrelated to prevention, or neglecting to close the gun background check gap.

“Minnesota has an inequity, or racial disparity, problem. The achievement gap ranks us at the very bottom in the entire nation and African Americans are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than their white peers. We need to limit access to deadly weapons, create social opportunity now, and save lives,”  said Leroy Duncan, community organizer with Protect Minnesota. “Bills like H.F. 1325 mistakenly misplace the issue of gun violence on communities of color by creating penalties that, historically, are disproportionately enforced on those communities. We’re convening because we need leadership to do what’s right for Minnesotan families; their quest for political convenience won’t only fail to prevent gun violence, but will only increase the disparities that exist in our state.”

Who: Communities of color, faith and community groups.

When: Tues, Mar. 12 at 11 a.m.

Where: State Capitol, in front of House Chambers

What: Communities of color oppose Hilstrom/NRA gun bill

  • H.F. 1325 contains two measures that are harmful and, if enacted, would, likely, disproportionately impact communities of color, and lacks the one measure that would benefit all communities.
  • Instates mandatory minimum sentences for citizens lawfully prohibited from possessing a firearm.
  • Creates new felony offenses that are unrelated to prevention. The Paymar bill, HF 237, by contrast, contains anti-trafficking language that prevents offenders from taking part in trafficking – without incarcerating them.

Fails to close the background check gap that allows gun sales without background checks at gun shows, on line, at flea markets and all over the state .


Gun Violence IS a Racial Justice Issue

We know that gun violence is a racial justice issue, and that we lose people of color every day to the consequences of gun violence, whether as victims or as perpetrators whose lives are destroyed by their actions. The proposal for mandatory background checks, which has strong support among Minnesotans, would prevent guns from getting into the hands of people who should not have access to them. A bill being introduced today in the Minnesota House by Rep. Debra Hilstrom would focus on prosecution for gun-related crimes and mandatory sentencing. It takes attention away from prevention and rebuilding safe communities. 
Stay tuned for more news and the chance to come together as communities of color to speak out against gun violence. 

From our allies at Protect Minnesota, who are working hard to build safer communities:


MARCH 6, 2013

Contact:  Heather Martens, Executive Director, Protect Minnesota (612) 205-7142 or Joan Peterson, Protect Minnesota(218) 428-6570

NRA Bill Is A Cop-Out That Avoids Confronting Our Gun Violence Problem  

St. Paul, MN – In advance of the release of the NRA-approved gun bill today, Protect Minnesota made the following statement:

“It is predictable that an NRA-approved bill removes the most important preventive measure from a very strong omnibus gun violence prevention bill prepared by Rep. Michael Paymar. Any bill that fails to address the gaping holes in our background check law falls far short of the public’s demand for the right to be safe in our own communities,” said Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence. “This bill focuses on punishment after the fact. After the shooting, it is too late. The damage is done. We need to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and the only way to do that is to make sure gun buyers pass a background check.”

New polling from the Star Tribune and Mayors Against Illegal Guns shows strong support for background checks before gun purchases through gun shows, garage sales, websites and private purchases. Read the polling showing overwhelming support for background checks in Minnesota’sFirst Congressional District and Third Congressional District.

“A bill that focuses on punishment reflects the worldview of the NRA lobbyists, which we heard repeatedly during the hearings: that all gun deaths are gang-related; and that prevention of gun deaths is impossible. Most Minnesotans don’t buy any of that, and their legislators shouldn’t either,” Martens said. Since the adoption of the Brady Background Check law, nearly 2 million gun purchases have been stopped by background checks.

“It is the job of House leadership to advance legislation that is preventive and that addresses the gaps in our background check law. So far, House leadership is not involved. They need to be,” Martens said.


Carpe Diem

My name is Leroy.  I would like to share an experience with you.  

I listened to my mother wail for months.  Her sister was killed months prior to this tragedy in a car accident, and now this.  Her child and my brother, Joseph Spann, was charged, tried and convicted of homicide when I was 13 years old.  On the day he pulled the trigger, killing the clerk of a neighborhood gas station, I lost my hero; overnight he became a statistic.  On the same night, someone from the family of the clerk Joseph shot lost their hero.  He became one of 30,000 people killed by guns every year in the United States of America.  30,000 lives, heroes, taken in the heat of the moment- in the blink of an eye.  My brother was a teenager and made a mistake that shook the foundation of my entire family.  He had no business carrying a gun.  

For the rest of 7th grade I suffered from migraine headaches.  I would regularly struggle through the day until I vomited and would have to go home.  It was like a daily nightmare.  The “respect” I was given by my peers gives perspective to how deep our problem with guns is.

In my lifetime there has never been an opportunity for Minnesota to address the recklessness, and disastrous affect of our gun culture.  It was politically impossible, until now!  Right now is our time to take back our Capitol from the interest and monetary influence of the firearms industry.  NRA lobbyists and gun manufactures are on their heels and responding to Minnesota’s first attempt in decades to pass reasonable gun violence prevention policy.  

We will be holding a rally at the capitol on President’s Day, this Monday, February 18th.  Can you join us in this critical moment? RSVP here

Right now we need Minnesotans more than ever.  We have the chance to show our young people we care and to shape the future of Minnesota; a chance that apparently comes once in a life time.  

Carpe Diem,

Leroy Lionel Duncan

Community Organizer

Protect Minnesota