TruthToTell, Monday, Dec 17–9AM: GUN VIOLENCE: Can Minnesota Stop Its Own?; TruthToTell Dec 24: MEL DUNCAN: Nonviolent Peaceforce Founder


Tune in this coming Monday from 9:00 am to 10:00 am on KFAI, (90.3 FM in Minneapolis, and 106.7 FM in St. Paul) to catch our upcoming program:

Monday, December 31, 2012

Remember – call and join the conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post on TruthToTell’s Facebook page. 



Often, to construct our newsletters each week, we’re Googling like crazy to compile the background of a given topic or guest.

Not so this week, not for our topic on guns and gun violence in Minnesota.

Needless to say, after the still heart-rending assault on Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, a few weeks ago (is it already weeks?), the writings – coverages, assertions, opinions, and, yes, faux pas by a wide variety of reporters, commentators, advocates and policymakers – we’re inundated with material.

Much of the reaction to yet another “massacre” of human life by the use of firearms emerges as shockingly insensitive to a sane, nominally democratic, society, all of it trying to make sense out of senseless acts, cynical Congressional inaction and the wide berth given by the US Supreme Court to a badly written Second Amendment, theoretically upheld in its literal ambiguity as to just which circumstances call for the right of citizens to bear arms.

This much we do know: something must bring to as close a halt as possible in this mass arsenal of weaponry we call the United States the increasing number and increasingly shocking carnage inflicted by multi-gun-toting, sadly disturbed and untreated societal outliers.

Let us not forget, however, that this sort of bloodletting is a common, everyday occurrence in scores of other countries and cultures ever in upheaval over deadly dictatorships or massive military crackdowns. Deaths of one’s own brothers and sisters of every age and gender occur by the thousands, even millions, in places where ancient sectarian and tribal hatreds rear their miserable heads. To those peoples, our outrage over incidents here may seem laughable.

But, to us, the very idea of one of us killing 20 children and seven adults in one armed rampage bespeaks a sickness of society as well as the young men (always men, or boys, and always white) who carry them out. These killings are not born of ancient sectarian rivalries. These are all our neighbors, our children, our peace of mind. They leave us stunned and numb and wailing for remedies.

Pro-gun advocates try to obscure the truth, but the very existence of guns in a household multiplies the chances someone in that household – not an intruder, but a family member – will be shot, and that the more guns are allowed to be carried in a state, the more gun deaths occur. The statistics defy refuting, including the dangers of allowing one-on-one gun sales with no background checks, even at official gun shows. And so on.

This week, we look at Minnesota’s remedies – or some possible solutions – to a culture so obsessed with its “right” to own, carry and fire guns that any notion that we should look at the Sandy Hooks of this country, this world, as one thing and one thing only: the lethal tirade of man gone mad and lay off the idea that the arsenal we have created by that obsession has anything to do with its deployment.

We have a governor – a DFL governor, and owner of several guns himself – who is afraid our hands are tied in light of the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment ruling a couple of years ago, that states cannot abridge such a ruling, even as the space cadets running the National Rifle Association (NRA) and our own Rep Tony Cornish insist that we should arm teachers and principals and/or turn our schools into armed sanctuaries with cops at every door. Never, ever, ever blame the proliferation of weapons or the overweening influence of a gun-manufacturing lackey like the NRA, which, under threat of political demise, has cowed most politicians into the most insane series of  statutes ever written on behalf of one industry (except, perhaps oil, hardly the deadly substance).

But, for the next two years at least, we now have an all-DFL-controlled state government, and it remains now for those caucuses and this governor to show the compassion and courage needed to finally put some limits on the types of weapons and bullets and magazines Minnesotans may harbor as well as the conditions under which guns can be purchased and a registry of arms created – some of this now prohibited by federal law.

Is it possible the Supreme Court would give way to a few states’ rights now without the basic Second Amendment ruling being violated? Where can we come down on making our homes and schools and public places safer in the face of severe resistance by the NRA and panicky gunowners who know not that the NRA does not represent them as much as it represents gun-makers?

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL talks with advocates for gun culture reform and changes in law to bring real protection to our children.


STATE REP. MICHAEL PAYMAR (DFL-St. Paul), Incoming Chair, MN House Public Safety Committee

HEATHER MARTENS – President, Protect Minnesota (formerly Citizens for a Safer Minnesota)


TONY BOUZA – former Chief of the Minneapolis Police and former candidate for governor (on a gun-control platform)





STATE REP. TONY CORNISH, Lead Republican, MN House Public Safety Committee; Retired Chief of Police, Lake Crystal, MN

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Monday, December 24, 2012



It’s probably a good thing that we have the opportunity to catch up with Mel Duncan this Christmas Eve morn. The United States remains in mourning over the violent killings of 27 human beings just over a week ago, 20 of them very young children. Deadly human conflict never ceases. That said, few men – or women, for that matter – can match Mel Duncan’s charismatic quest for peace in this world and in this community.

Four years ago, Mel stepped down as founding director of what will surely be his last organizational leadership position – the Nonviolent Peaceforce. After years working almost exclusively on public policy and social justice issues in Minnesota, something moved him to spread his rather extraordinary mix of quiet affect with a drive and determination for moving issues from concept to reality that he adopted a notion that “various kinds of pressure and influence (could) change the behavior of armed actors” in the ever-present venues of conflict around the globe.

Mel Duncan started his group, spent some long time raising money and awareness of the need for nonviolent intervention between belligerents in many countries, more often than not civil conflicts in which the mere presence of unarmed civilians could defuse potential deadly clashes at particular checkpoints within those nations.

Mel helped organize Advocating Change Together, the Minnesota Jobs with Peace Campaign, the Wellstone for Senate campaign and the Minnesota Alliance for Progressive Action now merged into TakeAction Minnesota.

Mel Duncan is a graduate of Macalester College, St. Paul Minnesota. In 2006 he was honored with their Distinguished Citizen award.  He also holds a Masters degree from the New College of California.

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship honored him with their 2010 Peace Seeker award. The Fellowship of Reconciliation USA awarded him their 2007 Pfeffer International Peace Prize on behalf of Nonviolent Peaceforce’s “courageous efforts in conflict regions around the world.”The Utne Reader named him as one of “50 Visionaries Who are Changing Our World” in November of 2008.

Mel and Georgia’s eight kids and twelve grandchildren probably account for learning negotiation.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL will talk for our Christmas Eve hour with Mel Duncan reporting back on what progress has been made and what is needed in the life of the Nonviolent Peaceforce as 2012 comes to an end.

Call and join the conversation with Mel Duncan – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us@TTTAndyDriscoll or post on TruthToTell’s Facebook page

GUEST:  MEL DUNCAN – Advocacy & Outreach Director, Nonviolent Peaceforce