From the deer-hunting stands of rural Minnesota to the legislative chambers of the State Capitol, the Second Amendment speaks loud and clear, and the state's gun laws reflect the power and persistence of the National Rifle Association.
But in the wake of gun violence that has erupted across the country -- from the 20 schoolchildren slain in Connecticut to the employee shooting in Minneapolis that took six lives -- the NRA's power in Minnesota is about to face a severe test.
DFLers who took control of the Legislature in January are readying a slew of bills that would ban assault-style weapons, extend background checks to private sales and take other prevention measures.
The NRA says no way.
President Obama will cast a giant spotlight on the issue Monday, when he comes to Minneapolis for a round table with local law enforcement. The fight, which starts in earnest with Tuesday's legislative hearings, will shed light on the passion, core beliefs and historic origins driving Minnesota's gun-owning culture.
The fate of his gun proposals on Capitol Hill uncertain, President Barack Obama is seeking to rally support from the public and law enforcement community for his calls to ban assault weapons and install universal background checks for gun buyers.
Obama will pitch his proposals to stem gun violence Monday in Minnesota, a Democratic-leaning state where officials have been studying ways to reduce gun-related attacks and accidents for several years. His visit to the Minneapolis Police Department's Special Operations Center will mark the first time Obama has campaigned on his controversial proposals outside of Washington.
Ahead of the trip, the White House released a photo of the president skeet shooting at Camp David, the presidential retreat. Obama cited skeet shooting when asked in a recent interview whether he had ever shot a gun.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Sami Rahamim has committed statistics about gun deaths to memory, folding them into sentences that make his case. He talks like a lawyer, not a high school senior -- no pauses or filler, no public trace of his pain.
On Sept. 27, Sami's father, Reuven Rahamim, was shot and killed along with five others at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, the company he founded, by an employee who had just been fired.
In the months since, Sami has become a 17-year-old lobbyist for reducing gun violence.
Sami has been at the state Capitol nearly every day for a month, missing school to push for legislation that would boost background checks and tighten gun regulations. He has spoken at churches, synagogues and gun violence forums.
He flew to New York last month to talk with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch gun control supporter. He will be at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address late this month with Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison. And on Monday, when Obama visits Minneapolis to pitch his proposals for reducing gun violence, Sami will be there -- not just as a victim but as a committed advocate.
While the state's two Democratic U.S. senators have said they are sympathetic to measures to curb gun violence, the National Rifle Association, the largest U.S. gun-rights group, has backed all four Republicans and two of the Democrats who represent Minnesota in the House of Representatives, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Minnesota voters are pretty strong in their support for an assault weapons ban- 54% support it to only 37% who are opposed. There is near universal support for it among Democrats, and it also meets with favor from 22% of Republicans and has 49/42 support from independents.
More broadly voters say that they trust Obama over the NRA on gun issues by a 47/43 margin, and that they support Obama's executive order last week on guns by a 46/40 spread. Whether it's because of the guns issue or something else though Republicans are very mad at Obama- they support impeaching him by a 54/24 margin.
White House spokesman Carney says it's premature to start writing off any pieces of the president's package designed to diminish gun violence.
President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, prior to traveling to Minnesota to talk about gun control. Obama is now in Minnesota, with a scheduled departure time of around 2:30 pm. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Prohibits firearm possession by a person who:
Is, or has ever been, confined to a treatment facility as a person who is mentally ill, mentally retarded or mentally ill and dangerous to the public, or who has ever been found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of mental illness, unless there is satisfactory proof that the person no longer suffers from this disability.
President Obama joined Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum and community and neighborhood leaders. They held a private round-table discussion focusing on gun-violence.
The event was held at the Minneapolis Police Department's Special Operations Center in north Minneapolis, an area that has seen some of the city's worst gun violence.
Then he was to speak to an invited group of law enforcement officials at an adjacent gymnasium.
Here is the list of participants at President Obama's gun violence roundtable in Minneapolis on Monday:
Attorney General Eric Holder
· Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton
· Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak
· U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar
· U.S. Senator Al Franken
· Congressman Keith Ellison
· B. Todd Jones, US Attorney for Minnesota & ATF Acting Director & Nominee
· Janee Harteau, Minneapolis Police Chief
· Rich Stanek, Hennepin County Sheriff
· Greg Hestness, Chief of Police, University of Minnesota
· Gary Cunningham, Vice President of the Northwest Area Foundation & Former Co-Chair Minneapolis’ Youth Violence Prevention Initiative
· Heather Martens, Executive Director of Protect Minnesota
· V.J. Smith, President and Executive Director of MADDADS
· Sue Abderholden, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness-Minnesota
· John Souter, Employee of Accent Signage and lone survivor of September 27, 2012 mass shooting
· Ellen Luger, Vice President, General Mills Foundation
· Mike Kirchen, Minneapolis Public Schools School Resource Officer
· Mary Johnson, Founder of Two Mothers
· Samuel Rahamin, Son of Minneapolis business owner who came to a White House meeting and was killed by a disgruntled employee at his shop last fall.
· Oran Beaulieu, Tribal Health Director of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in Northern Minnesota
DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said he doesn’t want to see lawmakers address gun related legislation until they finish work on the budget.
“I don’t what all has been introduced. It kind of goes back to my thought of trying to focus on the budget and stay out of these major policy initiatives. Chairs are going to hear bills, I guess, but I wouldn’t anticipate that we would take bills up on the floor even if the committee sent them there until we get this budget on its way.”