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Rybak wouldn't change laws on guns

Despite a track record of calling for tougher gun laws, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak says as governor he wouldn't advocate for new gun laws.

"I have been the mayor of the largest city in the state who has successfully fought crime and dramatically driven it down," Rybak said Wednesday in an interview. "And I didn't do any of that -- there wasn't a single action I took that jeopardized anyone's ability to have a hunting rifle."

Rybak, seeking the Democratic endorsement for the governor's office in 2010, was in Bemidji on Wednesday as part of a weeklong swing through Minnesota after announcing his candidacy Sunday.

The 15 people who attended his "meet and greet" during breakfast at a downtown Bemidji café didn't raise questions about two northern Minnesota hot-button issues -- Second Amendment rights to own firearms and abortion.

Northern elected Democrats staunchly defend the right to bear arms, and most trend to anti-abortion positions. Rybak is an abortion rights supporter.

"People can say anything they want, but you have to look at their record and I have a record of not limiting the rights of people to hunt, and I won't" Rybak said. "I've been a very successful crime fighter without doing a single thing to jeopardize anyone's rights."

That's especially true about sportsmen, he said, who use guns to hunt.

"One of the great parts of this state is that people connect with the outdoors and that people hunt," Rybak said. "It's a great part of our legacy and our lifestyle, and there's nothing I want to do that's going to jeopardize that at all."

Rybak, however, has been tough on handguns.

"There are too many guns in our city, in our state and in our country," Rybak said in 2007, as reported on the city of Minneapolis' Web site. He used the National Day of Protest Against Illegal Guns to call for curbing illegal gun sales by eliminating federal restrictions to data on illegal guns used in crime.

"Month after month our police officers seize record amounts of guns from our streets and month after month more guns show up in our city," he said. "Last year alone, Minneapolis police seized nearly 1,300 guns from our streets. This is a national problem that must be addressed at a national level."

Asked Wednesday about his views now on stricter handgun laws, Rybak said that "I don't propose any changes in what we're doing right now."

On reproduction rights, Rybak says he's "pro-choice" on abortion.

"I respect everybody's philosophy and I frankly don't think that's been much of an issue at the Capitol," he said. "The big issue is jobs, and I think right now people should not, and I don't think will, get distracted by hot-button issues that people have used forever to try and chop us into little parts of the state.

"We're one state, and the biggest issue is jobs," Rybak said.

On another political matter, Rybak said he would abide by the DFL endorsement process and not run in the primary should he not receive the party's endorsement.