In accordance with a proclamation issued by President Donald Trump, Governor Mark Dayton has directed all United States flags and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in the State of Minnesota. Flags should be lowered immediately, through sunset on Monday, as a mark of respect for the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
A law enforcement official said the former student suspected of killing at least 17 people posted “very, very disturbing” material on social media before the deadly shooting rampage. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for unspecified disciplinary reasons. Israel says investigators were dissecting the suspect’s social media posts.
Governor Dayton added that, “Yesterday’s terrible massacre of schoolchildren in Florida should shock and horrify all Minnesotans,” and he urged everyone to demand, and then work for, an end to gun violence.
Meanwhile, the former Majority Leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives and DFL candidate for governor also said there is a need for action on gun violence prevention and has presented a list of ideas she would pursue as governor and in the upcoming legislative session.
Representative Erin Murphy said that, “Seventeen more lives lost – students and teachers – are yet another reminder of the pain and suffering caused by the unwillingness of policymakers to prevent gun violence.”
She intends to focus on a number of gun violence prevention policies, including:
- Requiring more stringent background checks and permitting processes for assault weapons.
- Asking law enforcement to intervene in situations where anyone who owns or is looking to buy a gun is considered a threat to themselves or their community.
- Prohibiting the sale of AR-15 rifles in Minnesota.
- Requiring restrictions on clip sizes and extended waiting periods for assault weapons.
- Requiring built-in safety measures that limit accidents and holding gun manufacturers responsible if that standard isn’t met.
- Requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.
Murphy added, “I’m proud of the F rating I received from the NRA and it’s one I’ll continue working hard to earn.”
A law enforcement official has said Cruz legally purchased his AR-15 rifle about a year ago. The official is familiar with the investigation into the school shooting but not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Federal law allows people 18 and over to legally purchase long guns.
President Trump has also said the teen suspected in the Florida shooting showed “signs” before the attack that he was mentally disturbed. Nancy Nord Bence with Protect Minnesota said, however, blaming the incident on mental health misses the point because, “In interpersonal gun violence, when one person shoots another person–interpersonal, mental illness is a factor only 4% of the time. Guns are a factor 100% of the time.”
She added that focusing on mental illness is a distraction that is, “Just a way to get us to stop looking at the obvious fact that a 19-year-old was able to take a small arsenal into a school and kill 17 people in a matter of minutes.”
The Florida shooting suspect had been expelled from the school for bad and erratic behavior. Nord Bence said it’s concerning considering his reported troubled past that the suspect was able to legally buy an A-R 15 rifle. About a year, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed a law revoking an Obama-era regulatory initiative that made it harder for people with mental illness to buy a gun.
**The Minnesota News Network and the Associated Press contributed to this report.