Rachael Joseph
Feb 1 · 3 min read
Rachael Joseph leaves stones at the Westside Hebrew Cemetery where her aunt is buried. ~Photo by Rita Farmer

GUN CONTROL: We Will Vote You Out

Minnesota DFL Senate Minority Leader, Tom Bakk upset many voters recently when he said this regarding conducting background checks on all gun sales:

“Where you lose me is when you tell me that I can’t sell my gun to my neighbor who has lived with me my entire life — we have lived next door to each other — and you tell me he’s gotta go down to the county sheriff’s office and get a background check before I can sell a gun (to him).”

My aunt, Shelley Joseph-Kordell was murdered in the courthouse shooting at the Hennepin County Government Center. Her friend, Rick Hendrickson survived a bullet to the neck at point blank range. The shooter purchased a firearm through a private sale at a gun show, with no background check required by Minnesota law. A gun show was simply one of many places the shooter could’ve chosen to buy a gun without a background check; online, from a neighbor or friend.

Shelley Joseph-Kordell

The average background check takes 90 seconds. Senator Bakk, I don’t care about your inconvenience. You and your neighbor can drive to your local Federally Licensed Firearm dealer or Sheriff, pay thirty bucks, and have a 90 second background check. My family, on the other hand, will never be the same.

You cannot imagine the inconvenience of seeing your loved one’s body riddled with bullets. The inconvenience of not being able to bury her within the time frame your religious tradition requires, because your loved one is now “evidence.” The inconvenience of knowing the last thing you said to your loved one — that it’s the last thing you’ll say to them. Forever.

Senator Bakk, your district experiences mostly gun suicides and intimate partner violence. Do you want to live with the knowledge that you lent your neighbor your rifle to go hunting, and he used it to kill himself or someone else instead?

Over 90 percent of Minnesotans favor closing the private sale loophole on background checks. The states that have see a near 50 percent decrease in many types of gun deaths, including gun suicide.

I’ve called your office multiple times in the past weeks to tell you who Shelley was and what she meant to our family. You may continue to avoid my calls and emails but, Minnesota survivors and voters will hold you accountable in 2020.

Rachael Joseph is a gun violence survivor and the executive director at Survivors Lead, the only gun reform organization led 100% by survivors. She lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband and two children.

Rachael Joseph

Written by

Gun violence survivor, Executive Director at Survivors Lead

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