SCORE: LRT = 1, MPPA = 0

When you attend most ballgames and look up at the scoreboard you would think that team that has more points is usually winning. Well, typically this is true…but my topic today is no ordinary ballgame. No…it involves two very serious matters chock full of politics and woven deeply with emotions.

This past weekend the new Light Rail Transit (LRT) system running in the Twin Cities experienced its first fatality. In just a short three months of operation, the controversial Hiawatha Line system has been running, for the most part, problem free. In fact, if you’ve driven down the Hiawatha corridor towards Minneapolis you would wonder how an accident could even occur with all the lights, stop arms and bells that ring out to announce an approaching rail car.

But on Saturday, September 25th, an elderly gentleman got confused and crossed with his car in front of a high speed train killing him. Click here to read more. That wasn’t supposed to happen. The system had all the necessary safeguards in place to prevent such deadly potential. The experts all agreed this transit system was state-of-the-art and could serve as a model around the country for safety design.


On May 28, 2003, the Minnesota Personal Protection Act (MPPA) went into effect essentially turning Minnesota into a “shall issue” state from its previous “may issue” handling of gun permit applicants. In a nutshell, this new handgun law took the discretionary powers away from the local Chief of Police or Sheriff and made it mandatory for them to issue “conceal carry” permits to applicants, unless they could demonstrate a compelling reason why the applicant should not have a gun.

As soon as the new law went into effect thousands flocked to their local sheriffs to apply for one of these new coveted permits. In fact, I was one of those sportsmen who felt spending $100 was a small price to pay to be granted the special privileges the new law allowed. I took the necessary gun handling course, had my range time, and passed all the background checks. By the end of July 2003 I was granted my permit to carry.

Yet, ever since this issue passed on the floor of the legislature it has been a lighting rod of controversy. The dire predictions of a lawless state and shootouts in the Metrodome had many casual observers convinced that this had to be one of the stupidest laws ever to make it on the books. Their prediction of 90,000 new permit holders after the first year meant 90,000 more guns to worry about on our streets…in our stores…and, oh my gosh, in our houses of worship. See also. Argh….

Well…even as of today, as I write this, the controversy rages on with a district court judge striking down the new law on a technicality of legislative procedure. Still, these facts remain:

□ Roughly one-third of the anticipated applicants actually applied.
□ The issue has been largely out of the news…at least to the extent of any negative occurrences with permit holders.

Did you read that last point? A full 16-months after the new law went into effect there has yet to be an incident with a permit holder (justified, or not) where a death has occurred. Simply unbelievable. Where are all the pundits who predicted our hospitals would be filled with innocent victims? Where are all the folks who said our state has lost its “Minnesota Nice” and would now be branded negatively with stories of carnage? Well, they sure as hell aren’t stepping up to admit they were wrong.

Certainly this game is not over and I do not expect the score to forever be a shut-out. Accidents WILL happen and that is the unfortunate thing about life. Still, I think its important to emphasize there’s no public outrage and crying about LRT killing an innocent victim. But I’ll grant you this one little prediction…the first time there’s a death somehow tied to the MPPA, the public scrutiny and outcry will be against ALL GUN OWNERS…and somehow this sportsman doesn’t feel that will be fair. Unfortunately, this is a game where there are no referees to call foul when one side plays by different rules than the other.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.