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Last weekend's shooting in St. Paul was a terrible tragedy, predicted by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher as he patrolled the area the night before. The knee-jerk reaction of Gov. Tim Walz, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Democrats in the Legislature could also have been predicted: Calls for universal background checks and red flags laws.

These reactions ignore the reality of the situation: Criminals don't follow laws.

Democrats largely overlooked the death of another woman, in Minneapolis last week, who was hit by one of two cars involved in a rolling gun battle. Five Minneapolis children have been shot by stray bullets this year alone and they didn't roll out the news releases.

But this event — a mass shooting — finally warrants comment.

Even more predictable and laughable is blaming Republicans for gun violence because we stand with law-abiding citizens and their right to own a gun for self-defense.

Our SenateJudiciary andPublic SafetyCommittee held hearings to review the current laws on the books addressing gun crimes in 2020. Several citizens wearing  "Moms Demand Action" T-shirts told me after the hearing that they had no idea we already had so many laws to address gun violence.

Those laws weren't passed on a whim, hoping they would be followed. We didn't debate the criminal code at length so it can be ignored. We pass laws to support the work of law enforcement across the state and provide justice for victims.

A review of the previous criminal histories of those charged in the St. Paul shooting reveals a troubling practice of our criminal justice system: Metro-area judges and county prosecutors putoursafety at risk by refusing to press charges, failing to fully prosecute criminals, and deferring to light sentences.

In September, I said the public should be outraged at Ramsey County Attorney John Choi's decision not to prosecute felony crimes discovered as a result of non-safety traffic violations, like a busted taillight. His rationale was that only 2% of these stops result in charges.

Yet since Choi's announcement, Chisago County Sheriffs conducted non-safety traffic stops that led to a felony drug arrest and an arrest on a warrant for murder. The St. Paul Police confiscatedan illegal gunafterlocatinga car with no license platesin late September.Minneapolis police recovered a gun with the word,"killer" scratched onitduring aroutinetraffic stoplast year.

Since 2018, Minnesota state troopers have reported confiscating over 900 illegal firearms during traffic stops.

These are serious crimes deserving of prosecution. Under Choi's policy, they would have been ignored. Victims deserve better.

The decision to skip prosecuting criminal activity is dangerous and a slap in the face of victims. Judges who release convicted criminals before they have served their sentence are endangering the lives of the public. Violent crime broke records last year and I have no doubt records will be broken again in 2021.

Sadly, the increase in crime was predictable because Democrat City Councils have been defunding the police for years. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo requested 400 new cops from the Minneapolis mayor and council in 2019 — he received funding for 14. St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell is asking St. Paul City Council to fully fund his department with a full force of officers, requesting $3.1 million more than Mayor Melvin Carter proposed in the upcoming budget.

Police departments without adequate staffing can't respond to calls, investigate serious crimes or keep our communities safe. Their work that is frustratingly fruitless when attorneys and judges don't do their part.

Minnesota Democrats need a reality check. Their support for defunding and demonizing law enforcement has made the state less safe. Their policies that put pandering and progressive ideology over justice for victims are offensive.

Thesuspects in last weekend's shooting should not have had guns. But one was recently freed by a Hennepin County Judge afterservingtwo months of a full year sentenceand showed up withagun in a crowded bar,readyto settle a score.Heshould not have been released that early,and that responsibility belongs on the judge. 

Background checks or red flag laws would not have stopped these shootings. A fully funded police force, a prosecuting attorney focused on the public's safety, and serious incarceration from a judge who places victims first would have stopped this tragedy.

It's time for Democrats — in the Legislature, on the bench and in county attorney offices — to start taking crime seriously.

Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, is a member of the Minnesota Senate.