What are members of the Minnesota state Senate afraid of?
In a democracy, elected representatives of the people should cast a vote, up or down, on important issues.
At present, there might not be a more important issue before the Minnesota Legislature than proposals for gun-related regulations.
In the 2019 legislative session, the Minnesota House approved a series of what Gov. Tim Waltz, himself a hunter and gun owner, has described as "common sense" regulations. They included a measure that would allow law enforcement to remove a person's firearms if they are believed to pose a threat to themselves or others — the so-called "red flag" provision President Donald Trump has endorsed.
But the Minnesota Senate, led by Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) refused to vote on the House bills. In fact, Gazelka wouldn't even allow a committee hearing.
So, we ask again, what are members of the Minnesota Senate afraid of? Are they afraid of engaging their constituents in a discussion on an important topic? Are they afraid of big money donors who would ask them to vote against the wishes of their constituents? Or are they just afraid to take a stand, either up or down, on a controversial issue?
None of the above reflect well on Gazelka, his leadership, or the members of the Senate.
We understand that Gazelka and his caucus are not in favor of the gun measures passed by the House. Fine, but make it official. Go on the record. Engage in discussion and debate. Don't duck a tough vote — and don't rob your constituents of the opportunity to provide input and to learn where you stand.
The same might be said about the U.S. Senate, which has so far refused to vote up or down on a series of gun measures passed by the U.S. House. Again, if U.S. senators are afraid to take a tough vote, maybe they should find another line of work.
Here's the crux of the matter: Elected officials work for the people who voted them into office. By taking a pass on votes on the important issues of the day, they cheat the people they're supposed to be serving. Voters deserve representation.
Minnesota state senators and U.S. senators were happy to stand and accept the cheers that go to a victor on election night.
Now we'd like to see them stand up and do something not quite as easy: Cast a vote, yea or nay, that might be difficult and maybe even unpopular. Take a stand. Show us what you believe in.
Otherwise, be ready to forfeit the support and respect of the voters.