Duluth gun safety advocate attends Biden’s historic bill signing

Joan Peterson gathers with other gun safety advocates in Washington D.C, as they watched...
Joan Peterson gathers with other gun safety advocates in Washington D.C, as they watched President Joe Biden ceremoniously sign historic legislation Monday.(Joan Peterson)
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 5:05 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN -- A Duluth woman who knows the impact of gun violence all too well was invited to witness President Joe Biden ceremoniously sign historic safety legislation Monday.

Joan Peterson has been with the Northland Brady Chapter, a non-profit working to reduce gun violence for about 20 years.

She also lost her sister to a domestic shooting in the Twin Cities in 1992.

Peterson says Monday’s event at the White House was an emotional yet celebratory one, since this is the first major gun safety bill to pass through Congress in decades.

Joan Peterson poses with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and another gun safety advocate.
Joan Peterson poses with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and another gun safety advocate.(Joan Peterson)

The law incrementally toughens requirements for young people to buy guns, among other things.

It was passed after recent gun rampages in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, but in the 16 days after it officially went into effect, a gunman in Highland Park, Illinois, killed seven people at an Independence Day parade and injured many others.

Some say that is a reminder of the law’s limitations.

But Peterson hopes the momentum she felt at Monday’s event will only continue.

The U.S. Military Band performs at the historic gun safety bill signing at the White House...
The U.S. Military Band performs at the historic gun safety bill signing at the White House Monday.(Joan Peterson)

“Though the bill does a lot, and we’re really happy with the provisions of the bill, we know it didn’t go far enough and there are other things that could make us even safer,” Peterson said.

Peterson pointed to an assault rifle ban and mandatory safe storage laws, both topics she said President Biden stressed during his speech.

Peterson also had a chance to speak with several U.S. Senators during the event.

She’s grateful they were willing to lend an ear to people dealing with gun violence in their own communities.

Locally, Peterson has been a part of organizing many outreach events including vigils after mass shootings, forums, and lobbying efforts at the Minnesota state capitol.

She recognized the gun violence trend is worsening in Duluth, especially among teens.

“Certainly that’s something we’re very concerned about,” Peterson said. “When a 17-year-old shoots another 17-year-old you do have to ask the question, ‘where is the gun coming from?’ Seventeen-year-olds cannot purchase guns. They can’t own guns. So it has to come from an adult first and adults have to be responsible for their guns.”

A 17-year-old suspect was charged with second degree murder in the recent shooting death of another 17-year-old in Duluth.

The Duluth Police Department also expressed concern about the trend in teen gun violence and, like Peterson, encouraged gun owners to safely store their firearms since many weapons involved in crimes are stolen.

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