Cal Bahr is afraid.
Which is more than a little ironic, since it's Bahr whose rhetoric about gun control and activists has his opponents on that topic afraid of getting beaten up and/or run over by automobiles driven by men whose identity is, apparently, so tied to guns and threats of violence they'd rather commit a violent attack than pass a background check.
Bahr, a Republican legislator from Bethel, attended a gun rights rally at the Minnesota State Capitol on Saturday, and expressed his support for the Second Amendment with the following statement:
“There’s a lot of us in this room that have had enough, and it’s time to start riding herd on the rest of these people that want to take your rights away from you. They will not go quietly into the good night. They need to be kicked to the curb and stomped on and run over a few times.”
This... did not go over well. House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) issued a statement in response to Bahr's threatening language, which she called "reprehensible." Hortman, an attorney and a former Hennepin County prosecutor, sees a malevolent aspect to Bahr's speech, and considers it an unnecessary call to arms to his (heavily armed, most often) allies.
"Encouraging violence is irresponsible and dangerous. While some political issues elicit strong feelings by proponents and opponents, a hallmark of our country’s democracy is that we resolve disputes without recourse to violence. The Minnesota House of Representatives will foster a safe and respectful conversation on the issue of gun violence prevention."
The statement came at a rally organized by the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, a political action committee and lobbying group that really, really, really likes deadly weapons, and isn't about to start apologizing for the high death tolls they cause.
Bahr also mentioned a "tyranical government," and compared himself to a frog. It was weird. Also appearing at the same rally was Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and GOP Rep. Steve Drazkowski, among other figures. Bahr's contribution to this joyous occasion can be seen around the 58 minute mark below, if you care to lose time and brain cells.
Bahr's is no idle threat. Gun control bill hearings are regularly packed with citizens (men, almost exclusively) who exercise their Second Amendment rights by showing up with guns visible on their waist. Tony Cornish used to arrive at his own hearings about gun bills with a gun on him -- until he was ousted as a serial sexual harasser and forced to resign.
And last spring, a pro-Donald Trump rally at the Capitol was attended by MAGA-supporting men who were described as "really well-armed," but whose presence was defended by GOP Rep. Matt Dean (Dellwood), who fingered "thugs" on the other side as the real culprits.
Bahr, for his part, is described on his own website as a "former small business owner," whatever that means, and a U.S. Army Veteran during the 1980s -- not exactly the most glorious period in American military history, but who's asking Elliot Abrams? (Note: Ilhan Omar is.)
Gov. Tim Walz, a long-serving member of the U.S. National Guard, has also called Bahr out for reckless rhetoric, according to the Pioneer Press, which quotes Walz saying that "heated debates are a healthy part of the political process," but that speech of the kind Bahr issued Saturday "demands condemnation from people of all political parties.”
Let's not hold our breath waiting for that. We look forward to the statement from Matt Dean or House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt explaining that Representative Bahr's speech is being taken out of context, and that really, the ones you should be afraid of are the unarmed and peaceful protesters who try sending a message to lawmakers by walking out of their high schools, where many feel afraid for their lives.
For the record, the PiPress observes that neither gun control bill that might get traction this year has even had a hearing in a committee yet. So, for those keeping score, that's zero gun bills moving on one side, and one very strange threat to have people stomp on and run over (repeatedly) lawmakers and activists on the other side.
Now who sounds scared?
(Answer: All of us, but for some very different reasons.)