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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon and most of their staff bowed their heads at 10 a.m. Monday, joining a moment of silence for victims of Saturday's Arizona shootings. Dayton said he would call a meeting of state leaders this week to discuss Capitol security. Photo by Don Davis, Forum Communications.

Shootings elicit concerns for Capitol safety

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By Don Davis

State Capitol Bureau

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton plans to bring together state officials to discuss security around the Capitol complex in light of Saturday's Arizona shooting of a congresswoman and those attending her public event.

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"This is a moment of great national solemnity," Dayton said before joining a nationwide moment of silence in memory of the six who died and those hurt in the shooting.

Dayton said he has not changed his security, but wants to talk to legislative leaders, law enforcement officers and others about whether changes are needed to Capitol complex security. He said a balance is needed between safety and allowing Minnesotans into public facilities and near their elected officials.

While Dayton plans to be in northwestern Minnesota Tuesday, he said that he hoped the meeting could occur Wednesday.

"Our security process is very good," Dayton said, but he is open to ideas about how to improve it.

The public may walk into the Minnesota Capitol without being screened. Many state Capitols, and other government buildings, require visitors to at least go through metal detectors.

The governor, on the job a week today, last week allowed some protesters into his office as he signed onto a federal health-care program. He even let three protesters speak, something no one in the Capitol recalls happening with previous governors.

Such tense moments are common in public life, but Dayton deflated the passion by allowing the trio to speak, even though it did not change his mind about the issue.

Today, Dayton said he will continue to allow those who disagree with him into his public events.

"We are fortunate to live in Minnesota where there is a respectable level of discourse," Dayton said.

Dayton said public officials should expect to face some violent people, but the public should be safe.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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