State Democrats Vow to Keep Pushing Gun Law Changes

March 01, 2018 09:10 PM

Democratic lawmakers and proponents of stronger gun laws say their efforts aren't over.

Republicans on Thursday quickly put a stop to pair of bills seeking to expand background checks and temporary restrictions for gun owners by a court order. Those measures were tabled by Republicans who control the House.

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RELATED: 2 Gun Control Bills Up for House Committee Vote

St. Paul Rep. Dave Pinto told reporters after the House Public Safety Committee meeting that he plans to tweak his bills in hopes of getting another hearing. Hundreds of citizens on both sides of the issue flooded the Capitol to rally support or opposition for the legislation.

"We can keep guns, more guns, out of the hands of dangerous people and also uphold the rights of those Minnesotans (who own guns)," Pinto said. "We can do both. We must do both."



Moms Demand Action Minnesota chapter leader Erin Zamoff said if lawmakers don't vote for stricter gun laws, "then we'll vote in people who do."

The GOP-majority Public Safety Committee tabled both bills, with opponents questioning whether it would be effective. Supporters argued it could keep potentially dangerous people from acquiring guns via private sales.

"We're opposed to both bills," said Bryan Strawser, the chairman of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. "We believe the gun violence restraining order bill has some significant due process challenges. It allows the confiscation of firearms without a hearing where a gun owner gets to have representation.

"The universal background check bill puts a lot of undue burden on gun owners across the state. Particularly the economically disadvantaged that will have to find a way to get to a gun shop."

As lawmakers considered the legislation, hundreds of citizens on both sides of the issue packed the halls of the Capitol seeking to influence legislators.

"Gun violence protective orders would allow family members, who are usually the first to see red flags, to alert law enforcement who can then take action," said Merit Brock, who supports the bill.

"Gun violence restraining orders are a noble idea," said Rob Doar with the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. "We support ways that family members can intercede with people who think they are at risk."

But Doar said he's concerned about the process of removing the gun. And those concerns were echoed by one Republican committee member.

"So the person who had their weapons taken away ... has the burden to prove they are not dangerous," said Rep. Marion O'Neill of Maple Lake. "Where in our justice system do you have to prove you are not guilty?"

Efforts to curb gun violence and gun access have gained momentum nationwide after the shootings last month in Florida that killed 17 students and teachers, but they face stiff opposition in Minnesota's GOP-controlled Legislature.

Chairman Brian Johnson says the bills will remain in the committee. He didn't say if they would be heard at a later date.

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The Associated Press

(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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