Rep. Keith Ellison insists he doesn't intend to take away anyone's guns, telling those who gathered at a town hall meeting on Thursday that he is a gun owner seeking "common-sense gun safety laws."
"I myself own a gun," Ellison said at the Shiloh Temple gathering. "I own a shot gun."
The crowd listened intently as Ellison explained his stance on guns.
"Today is the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King being shot down with a gun, a man who lived for peace," he said.
It's a timely topic considering President Barack Obama's stops in Denver and California this week, during which he urged Congress to act on gun control. The national catalyst for the conversation is the Sandy Hook shooting, but here at home, the Accent Signage shooting and the city's day-old murder investigation on Humboldt Avenue have neighbors talking.
A vigil will be held on Saturday to honor the north Minneapolis was who gunned down in broad daylight on Wednesday-- and those who live in the area say they are all-too familiar with gun violence.
V.J. Smith., who is in favor of strict background checks and an assault weapon ban, said he believes the issue of gun control extends beyond the inner city --and that arresting the problem away won't work.
"Where are those guns coming from? We don't have any African Americans that I know that manufacture guns," he said. "We don't have any African Americans that sell ammunition."
Whether they are pro- or anti-gun, there was common ground found during the discussion: Keep guns out of criminals' hands. Yet, there are differences of opinion on what will and won't work -- and the members of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance were clear in sharing theirs.
"I don't think anything that's proposed is going after the criminal," David Seffren said. "It'll pretty much just inconvenience the law-abiding citizen."
For the hosts of the town hall meeting, violence prevention trumped concerns of inconvenience.
"We've got to re-sensitize people," Ellison argued.
Organizers also favor funding mental health and substance abuse treatment before the end of spring if possible.
"It's critical right now that we do something, not only based on what the president's doing, but also based upon it's getting warm and when it gets warm, we see things happen," Smith said.
Ellison said he is confident a background check bill and high-capacity magazine bill will make it through Congress, but he is not as confident about the success of an assault weapons ban.