A dorm room shared by the leadership of St. Olaf’s College campus Republican group was visited and searched by police last weekend after someone anonymously reported to campus police that the students were illegally storing guns and ammunition. The College Fix has a great write-up, including interviews with several of the students, who say they believe they were targeted with the false report because of their conservative political beliefs.
Several St. Olaf College Republicans told The College Fix that they understand why campus security had to perform the raid, which disrupted the living space of the six residents, but added they feel the false and anonymous report that triggered it was politically motivated.
“We didn’t get any heads up at all,” Chris said, adding the contents of his closet were removed as part of the search. “They wouldn’t tell us anything other than that they were searching for firearms, which obviously we don’t have because we live on campus.”…
Ben, another student who lives in the pod, said the whole incident was troubling.
“It was disturbing to have several officers knock on our doors to inform us that our rooms were going to be searched because another student had reported all of us for having guns in our rooms,” he said. “We were locked out of our own rooms while they searched through everything. Our rooms and possessions had been roughly handled and were strewn across the floor.”
Nick said it’s clear why their pod was targeted: “Most of us in the pod are conservatives involved with the College Republicans.”
If these students think it’s bad now, wait until Minnesota adopts a red flag law that would allow for these students to be stripped of their right to own a firearm based on claims that they’re dangerous to themselves or others. Democrats and gun control groups have been pushing hard for the legislature to pass a Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, but thankfully at a hearing this week, Republicans indicated they want to better enforce existing laws instead of putting new restrictions on the books.
For three hours, the Senate hearing was packed with many who support tighter laws and some who oppose them. That set the stage for gun law battles to come this next session.
The first full hour consisted of lawmakers going through existing laws and who is legally barred from owning guns.
“Our criminal justice system apparently is sending a message to criminals in our state that we are not serious about felony-level crimes involving firearms,” said Senator Dan Hall…
Before the hearing, a rally by gun law advocates pushed for two bills that have languished at the capitol for several years including background checks on private sales and emergency protection orders.
“It seems to me this is more political window dressing than it is a serious attempt to address gun violence in Minnesota,” said Democratic Senator Ron Latz.
Contrary to the claims of the anti-gun senator, universal background checks and red flag laws are fundamentally unserious ways of addressing violent crime and suicide. Background check laws that criminalize the private transfer of firearms don’t lead to more background checks, and they don’t lead to fewer crimes either. Red flag laws, meanwhile, don’t seem to reduce suicides in states where they’re in place, though there may be a reduction in firearm-related suicides.
I commend Minnesota’s Republicans for keeping the focus on violent criminals. In addition to looking at ways to better enforce the laws on the books and to help those in a mental crisis get help, hopefully Minnesota’s Republicans can also do something about to help the victims of “swatting” find justice. If they need any expert testimony, it sounds like the College Republicans at St. Olaf’s would be happy to testify.