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Minnesota politicians have been reacting to the elementary school atrocity in Uvalde, Texas, which has once again renewed calls for meaningful action on guns in the United States.

Democratic politicians, children's groups and anti-gun activists are leading calls for new laws such as those enhancing background checks, reducing access to AR-15-style rifles, introducing red flag rules, and closing purchasing loopholes.

But despite polls finding that 90% of Americans want universal background checks, and 60% in favor of banning semi-automatic weapons, any gun legislation proposed in Congress is all-but-certain to get blocked by Republicans who continue to oppose any restrictions on firearms.

The response in Minnesota to the Texas shooting shows a stark difference between the two parties.

Rep. Dean Phillips (D–3rd District) reacted furiously to the shooting, which at the time he posted the following had seen 14 children confirmed as dead. The grim total now stands at 19 children and two teachers. 

"I’m a gun owner. Do not tell me our Founders conceived of this carnage when they wrote the Constitution," he tweeted. "Do not tell me they would have tolerated this madness. Do not tell me that teachers must be armed. And do not tell me your AR15 is worth more than another 14 children’s lives."

He later posted: "Parents kissed their kids this morning after breakfast, wished them a good day, and they’ll never see them again. Shot to death in school. IN SCHOOL! Only in America does this carnage happen. Every damn month. May their memories be for a blessing and may we stop this madness."

5th District Rep. Ilhan Omar had a similar response: "This cannot and should not be normal. As a parent of an elementary school student, the pain and anger is unbearable. Pass gun safety legislation now."

She also criticized Republicans who say the answer is putting more armed police in schools, noting how there were several police officers at the Uvalde school who were unable to stop the shooter, Salvador Ramos.

Rep. Angie Craig (D-2nd District) called for "real action" without specifically calling out gun legislation.

"This is every parent’s worst nightmare. I’m sickened and heartbroken by this terrible news. But I’m also angry," she said. "We don't have to live in a country where murdering elementary school children results in a lot of thoughts and prayers but no real action."

Some prominent Republicans, such as Sen. Mitch McConnell, have been criticized in the wake of the shooting for offering little more than prayers and avoiding talk of gun reforms.

Others have suggested focusing on mental health support rather than gun legislation, despite other countries experiencing similar mental health challenges without nearly as many mass shootings. 

Among those taking this stance is Dr. Scott Jensen, the Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota, who previously proposed gun safety regulations while a state lawmaker, but has since repudiated his actions after launching his run for governor.

"Texans, my heart is with you. Let’s remember the victims, pray for the families, and courageously work - without ceasing - on the mental health crisis that daily devastates lives across America," Jensen said.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was among the Republicans who proposed more armed officers in schools, and criticized Democrats for "politicizing" the shooting.

In Minnesota, congressman Tom Emmer (R-6th District) and Pete Stauber (R-8th District) expressed horror at the situation in Texas, but did not make the same pleas for change as their Democratic counterparts.

"Jacquie and I are absolutely heartbroken to hear about the tragedy unfolding in Uvalde," Emmer posted. "Praying for the entire Robb Elementary community and the families of those lost in today’s senseless act of violence."

Stauber tweeted: "As parents of school aged children, Jodi and I were horrified with the shooting yesterday in Texas. Every child should be safe in their homes and schools. This was pure evil. The families of these innocent victims are in our prayers."

Tyler Kistner, who is challenging Craig in the 2nd District this year, posted: "I am heartbroken to hear the tragic news coming out of Uvalde today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and Uvalde community affected by this senseless act of violence."

The massacre in Texas comes just days before the National Rifle Association is due to hold its annual conference in the state.

The NRA has been a longtime supporter particularly of Republican political candidates.

Reps. Emmer and Stauber have both received donations from NRA-affiliated PACs in recent elections, per OpenSecrets.org, as did Kistner and the late 1st District Rep. Jim Hagedorn.

With West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin once again affirming he will not vote to overturn the filibuster in the Senate, the only hope of reaching the 60 votes needed to pass broad gun safety legislation is convincing ten Republicans to vote in favor.

Republicans, led by McConnell, have long resisted legislation that restricts gun access, citing the 2nd Amendment.

It looks as though the only option for Democrats is to hold onto the House in November – notoriously difficult in a mid-term year with a sitting Democrat in the White House – and increase their majority in the Senate sufficiently to overcome the objections of Manchin and possibly Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema to end the filibuster.

There have been efforts at the state level in Minnesota to tackle gun violence in recent years, with House DFLers in 2020 trying to pass red flag rules and universal background checks, per the Associated Press.

But these weren't given a hearing in the GOP-controlled Senate, with Senate Republicans instead proposing to increase penalties for gun crimes, cracking down on straw buyers who sell to criminals, and ensuring courts follow up on whether someone subjected to a restraining order had surrendered their firearms.

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