ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Handgun holstered on his hip, Anthony Triemert showed up to Minnesota's Capitol on Friday for the latest in a number of recent legislative hearings on various gun control proposals.
"I just came down here today to show support for Second Amendment rights," he said. But Triemert's right to carry a loaded gun is safe in this building. Minnesota is one of at least nine states that allow people to carry guns into the brick-and-mortar homes of government.
All he and other Minnesotans have to do is notify the Minnesota Department of Public Safety in advance. As hundreds of pro-gun activists have streamed into the state's legislative hearings on gun controls, such notifications have spiked in the last month — almost 1/5th of all notifications given since the current permit law took effect in 2006.
Between Jan. 18 and Feb. 22, 150 people notified DPS of the intent to carry their weapons on the Capitol complex. By contrast, only 56 such notifications were filed in all of 2012. And since the law took effect, a total of 723 individuals have notified the agency.
On Friday, gun rights activists again came out in force for the second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Most of them didn't wear their guns openly like Triemert, though he was not the only one. An auto mechanic from Brooklyn Park who's now on disability, Triemert said he wears the gun almost everywhere he goes.
"I don't believe in gun safe zones. I think it's an advertisement for a killing zone," Triemert said, noting he carries a weapon for protection because of his own physical limitations.
Private establishments in Minnesota are allowed to post signs stating that guns are not allowed on the premises. But no such rules are in place at the Capitol, which has no metal detectors at its public entrances.
"I don't like people carrying weapons in the Capitol," said Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, a Judiciary Committee member and outspoken gun control supporter. "This is a place where controversial decisions are made all the time. Emotions can run high."