NRA-backed lawmaker pretends to care about gun violence for election


Minnesota state Rep. Sarah Anderson sponsored doomed gun-safety bills instead of the real reform voters in her state wanted.

After years of marching in near-lockstep with the NRA, Minnesota state Rep. Sarah Anderson (R) suddenly proposed legislation on gun safety. But her proposals have all the trappings of an election year ploy.

As Minnesota's City Pages noted, the bills "arrived as the Minnesota Legislature’s calendar was sputtering to an end, with no chance of passing." City Pages called the legislation "tepid and of amateur construction, widely panned by everyone from gun enthusiasts to sheriffs to battered women activists."

In May 2018, Anderson offered up legislation on gun safety that puported to encourage people involved in private gun sales to use the background check system. (Voters have said this should be mandatory).  At the same time, Anderson also proposed another bill that would tighten up laws surrounding perpetrators of domestic violence obtaining firearms.

But all indications suggest the proposals were simply an attempt to find cover as voters supporting gun legislation go to the polls. Even Anderson's fellow Republicans on the Senate's public safety committee and in the House refused to seriously consider the bills.

In the past, Anderson has been a staunch NRA ally. Her voting record shows that in 2015, and again in 2017 — just a short time before offering up the new bills — she was rated at 93 percent by the NRA. In 2011, she got an "A+" rating from the gun group as well.

Nancy Nord Bence, head of the gun violence prevention group Protect Minnesota, told the Star Tribune that Anderson's bill was "kind of mystifying, really too little too late."

She added, "I think this will benefit the suburban Republicans who want to be able to tell the voters they introduced a bill."

Anderson faces a challenge to her seat by Democrat Ginny Klevorn, who states on her official website she supports "universal background checks and gun violence protective orders."

The NRA's position has been to undermine legislators on those key issues at both a national and local level, and Anderson's high rating from the organization betrays her sudden election-year advocacy.

Polling just before Anderson's proposal showed that 90 percent of Minnesota voters support mandatory background checks on all gun sales, including those sold at gun shows.

That, more than a decision to rock the boat with her NRA allies, likely explains Anderson's newfound stance, and raises the question of whether he support for gun control will last past Election Day.