Sen. Warren Limmer’s human blockade of gun control in Minnesota


Warren Limmer’s (right) Twitter mentions ultimately read like one man clinging to his favorite spot on the beach while wave after wave threatens to pummel him away. Minnesota House

Someday, when historians inevitably look back through Twitter to figure out what in God’s name happened during the 20-teens, Minnesota state Sen. Warren Limmer’s account is going to tell an interesting story.

The most recent tweets about Limmer (R-Maple Grove) are about gun control. There are news updates saying Limmer will maybe-hopefully-I-don’t-know hold an “informational hearing” on gun bills, such as universal background checks.

Further back: a photo of a bunch of Minnesota high-schoolers standing in Limmer’s office, demanding gun legislation in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The one staring him down with his arms crossed is Joshua Groven, a senior at the School of Environmental Studies in Eagan, who led a sit-in in Limmer’s office and later interrupted a Senate hearing after the students were politely turned away with assurances that gun control just didn’t have the votes. They were gaveled and escorted out.

Here's why Limmer matters to a group of students who would probably rather not have spent the day with him. Limmer is the chair of the Senate Judiciary’s public safety committee. When it comes to public safety -- and in this case, gun control -- what goes before the Senate and when and how is his call. That’s why Groven and company picked him. They needed to get his attention.

But few have been able to get Limmer’s attention on gun control these days. Not even his fellow legislators.

They’ve proposed a slew of gun bills on everything from universal background checks to bans on bump stocks and military-grade weapons. They’ve proposed raising the purchase age of certain weapons to 21 and allowing families or police to petition a court to temporarily take away guns from people considered dangerous.

But thus far, Limmer has refused to allow hearings on any gun control matter, defying clear public sentiment. He’s not just blocking legislation. He’s refusing to even allow the issue to be discussed. (Limmer did not respond to interview requests.)

Ninety-seven percent of Americans now support universal background checks on all gun purchases, making it perhaps the only issue the country uniformly agrees on. Moreover, 67 percent of Americans now support a nationwide assault weapon ban.

Those lopsided numbers have also been playing out right before Limmer’s eyes on the steps of the Capitol in St. Paul. On March 24, 18,000 protesters at the March for Our Lives rally demanded legislators do something about gun violence.

By contrast, only 1,000 people attended a pro-gun rally last weekend.

This isn’t the first time Limmer has been on the wrong side of history.

In 2011, he sponsored an amendment that would have defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.

In 2012, voters rejected Limmer’s amendment.

By the following year, same-sex marriage was legal in Minnesota.

Limmer’s Twitter mentions ultimately read like one man clinging to his favorite spot on the beach while wave after wave threatens to pummel him away. There’s little to see in that gap between holding out on gun control and holding out on same-sex marriage five years earlier.

There are some political movements that seem impossible until they hit a certain cultural tipping point. Then they become unstoppable. The people who stand rooted to their old ideas and old opinions -- the ones who still say “no” even as more and more scream “yes” -- suddenly stick out like sore, obstructionist thumbs.

On the cusp of same-sex marriage becoming the law of the land, that was Limmer.

Now, with gun control, it’s still Limmer.

Sponsor Content