March 08, 2017 05:30 PM
Minnesota gun owners may no longer need a permit to carry in public as Republican lawmakers seek to loosen state gun laws.
A House bill eliminating the state's permit-to-carry law was one of a pair of bills that drew hundreds of proponents and opponents to the Capitol Wednesday. A second bill would create a so-called "stand your ground" law granting broader immunity to shooters acting in self-defense.
Lawmakers were split by party as testifiers from both sides packed a House hearing and an overflow room.
Rep. Jim Nash said he authored the bills to strengthen the state's Second Amendment rights. The Waconia Republican said his bills would still ban felons and people in the criminal gang database from getting guns as the state's current law does.
"I believe firmly that self-defense is a human right," Nash said at the hearing. "It doesn't know anything about color. It doesn't know anything about geography. We each have an individual right to defend ourselves."
One African-American woman who testified against the bill identified herself as an "educator" who could be mistaken as a threat simply because of the clothes she wears. "I'm a 43-year-old educator and when I put this up I'm feared," said Shantel Allen, as she pulled up the hood on her black sweatshirt.
Law enforcement officials also testified against the bills, saying they could jeopardize the lives of police officers.
No vote was taken on either bill Wednesday. However, they will be considered for possible inclusion in a larger public safety bill later in the session.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Updated: March 08, 2017 05:30 PM
Created: March 08, 2017 02:32 PM
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