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Minnesota Gun Debate: Proposed Gun Ban Pits Safety vs. Second Amendment Rights

HF241 would ban assault weapons and provide a way to dispose of those lawfully possessed prior to the ban.

The Second Amendment gives Americans the right to keep and bear arms, but up for debate before a House committee Wednesday was if a certain type of gun should be banned.

Sponsored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), HF241 would ban assault weapons and provide a way to dispose of those lawfully possessed prior to the ban. It has no Senate companion.

Also scheduled to be heard at the second day of gun hearings by the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee was HF242 that would create a new crime for manufacturing, transferring or possessing large capacity magazines for firearms. Because of so much testimony on the assault weapons bill, HF242 has been pushed back to Thursday. The committee is scheduled to meet from 10 a.m. until noon and reconvene at 6 p.m.

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No votes are scheduled to be taken on any of the dozen bills to be heard during the three days, but Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-St. Paul), the committee chairman, plans to put together an omnibus gun bill this month that would encompass some of the ideas shared during the hearings.

Proponents of the assault weapons ban said it is needed, in part, because there is no real use for the weapons other than in the military.

“You don’t need them for sport, you don’t need them to hunt, you also don’t need them for self- protection in your home,” said former Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan.

A federal assaults weapon ban expired in 2004.

Assault weapons are commonly referenced as semiautomatic or modern sporting rifles with large detachable magazines, pistol grips and telescoping or folding stocks. Many hunters like to use them. Others said they are useful for mass killings.

Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota, urged members to remember the lives lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School and other shootings where an assault weapon was used.

“You need to remember, as you consider this, who those children are and how their families lives have been impacted. … If we don’t do something now, where does that changing world stop?”

The bill is a “moral issue,” said John Egelhof, a retired FBI agent, who was the first agent on the scene at the Red Lake School shooting in 2005.

“These weapons and components have not one legitimate use outside the battlefield or in the hands of a policeman.”

Chris Rager, a state liaison with the National Rifle Association of America, said the bill is “failed policy” because the previous federal ban was not successful in keeping these guns out of the hands of criminals.

He also said assault weapons are used in only a “small percentage” of firearm-related violent crimes.

“I’ve never seen a bill like this, and, I think it’s un-American,” Rager said.

“I think there are many law-abiding Minnesotans who choose to have this type of firearm for their defense. I’ve heard some people say here, ‘Why do you need that?’ I didn’t know it was a bill of needs or wants; I thought it was a Bill of Rights. … Now we’re going to turn that right into a privilege only if the government allows us to have those firearms.”

Tim Jezierski, a gun safety instructor from Two Harbors, questioned the bill’s fairness. “To anybody who practices … we’ve done nothing with this bill but disarm honest citizens.”

Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R-Stillwater) who sits on the committee said she ran for office to represent the people of her district with the principles of individual liberty and limited government.

"The second amendment to our US constitution assures our rights as private citizens to keep and bear arms for many reasons," Lohmer said. "I took an oath to uphold the constitution and I take this very seriously. I will never vote to limit the rights of citizens which are part of our constitution."

- Mike Cook, of Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Service contributed to this report.

Marc Masnor February 07, 2013 at 08:48 PM
An assault weapon was not used at Sandy Hook. A semi automatic rifle was not used at Sandy Hook. No rifle of any kind was used at Sandy Hook. Thank the media for this general public disinformation and the misguided frenzy to do something about guns. Sandy Hook was tragic. Blame the killer. Do something to help the mentally ill and to protect society from those that are dangerous. Don't say that schools don't need armed staff. About 30% of schools already have armed staff. Don't take away the protection that millions and millions of people currently have by having a gun. The wife or girlfriend of an abusive partner. The man or woman that has to walk in dangerous areas to get to work to feed their family. The old couple down the street that is an easy target for thieves. You or me. Those wanting to ban guns, in part or totally, may live in a little gingerbread world with gates and (ironically) armed guards; and the big crime of the day is a teenager speeding through the neighborhood or kids walking across your manicured lawn. But most people live where there is crime, real crime. Gang shootings, crack heads, rapists, thieves, and burglars. There are a lot of bad people in the world and the primary thing that keeps most of of us safe from them is the bad person thinking we have a gun. The police are not a deterrent - they are 15 minutes away, if they even come.
Marc Masnor February 07, 2013 at 08:49 PM
And don't be so ridiculous to think that the look of a gun makes it function any differently than one you don't thinks looks evil. Don't tell me that guns are only made to kill. They aren't. Millions of people have guns and have only fired at targets. Cars and hammers and clubs are not make to kill but they do kill and the dead don't really care if those things were or weren't made to kill; and those inanimate objects kill many more people than all rifles do every year and the modern sporting rifles (which are incorrectly called assault weapons) are a tiny fraction of all rifle deaths. And please don't confuse the issues of the 2nd Amendment rights with hunting and self defense. Hunting regulations in each state control the caliber and capacity of the ammunition that is judged suitable by each state agency for each game species. It's already controlled and has been for a long, long time. But, surprising to some, modern sporting rifles with large capacity magazines are allowed in some places for wild hogs - a non native and destructive species. The 2nd Amendment does give individuals the right to modern military style weapons. The Supreme Court was explicitly said so. Should the mentally ill have them - of course not.
Marc Masnor February 07, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Enforce the existing gun related laws. Most background check violators are not prosecuted. And fund the treatment of mentally ill people that are dangerous to themselves and other. A gun ban will do nothing but create criminals of current gun owners and will eventually cause an increase in violent crime. Criminals and the mentally ill DO NOT CARE ABOUT LAWS. Criminals and the mentally ill DO NOT CARE ABOUT RIGHT AND WRONG. Of course, if you are of the "only the strongest will survive crowd", then by all means take away everyone's ability to defend themselves. Who do you hold responsible for a drunk driving accident - the driver. Who do you hold responsible for a beating death - the beater. Stabbing, poison, choking, medical malpractice, smoking... You hold the person responsible. Why are shootings different? Answer, they aren't.
OLD MORT February 07, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Disarm the people. That's what this is all about. It is a bill that will disarm the honest and sane citizens and the only ones with guns will be criminals, cops and the government. In England and Australia they started the same way. Ban assault rifles or better yet make it any semiautomatic rifle. The ones before the ban had to be registered and then a year later they were confiscated by force. Either bring your guns in (all types: pistols - rifles) or we will come and get them. Now it is happening here. I voted for Obama like a fool...I will never vote Democratic again.
OLD MORT February 07, 2013 at 09:23 PM
The AK 47 and the SKS are about the same balistics as one of the most popular deer rifles in this state. The 30/30.
Jay Duggan February 08, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Google the text of HF 241. An "assault" weapons ban would: ban semi auto .22's with tube mags, ban the M1 Garland, ban 8 shot semi auto competition and security shotguns, ban an 1896 broom handle Kaiser, ban all AR and similar models and ban even the same technology to design any new weapon to conform to the ban. The magazine ban outlaws the magazine that comes with darn near every handgun. If you have an "assault" weapon and want to keep it you must: register with the cops annually , possibly be denied if you have had any police contact, can be required to get a psychiatrist and doctor exm to get the annual permit, allow no warrant searches of your home for weapons storage inspection. Read the Miller and Heller US Supreme Court decisions, all this is unconstitutional. Payba k on election day.
OLD MORT February 08, 2013 at 11:57 PM
This really ticks me off...Why don't that old bag mind her own business and leave us defenders of the 2nd amendment alone!
Interesting February 09, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Almost every single rifle or shotgun I have held or observed in a store in my entire life can be argued as having a pistol grip which can be concievably held by one hand. The "pistol grip" then normally flares from a pistol grip design into a longer shoulder stock but make no mistake... at some point in the design of the shoulder stock, a pistol grip is present. I guess you first get the language in place so the process of removing guns with this type of stock design happens someday as well. Very clever!
OLD MORT February 09, 2013 at 07:05 PM
Old Alice is a do gooder and you know what Harry Truman said about them. I hope to hell they vote her out next election.
Terrance kolden February 10, 2013 at 05:23 AM
I feel that The people of Minnesota should ban together and not re-elect any state official that vote for this ban of assault rifles. They talk about representing the people of Minnesota and they are making this decision on their own. I feel that these political officials are doing this for their own personal beliefs, not the people they are suppose to be representing. So the people that believe that the ban of assault rifles is wrong and it does pass. Remember that when election time comes around and what freedoms and rights they are trying to take away from us. Everyone remember this the ones who take away our rights and privileges, we can ban together and take away their right for re-election.
Garret K February 11, 2013 at 09:50 PM
As a person suffering from symptoms of PTSD (due to violence AGAINST ME), I am mentally ill. I care about laws. I have committed no crimes. I care about right and wrong. I fought for 4 years through to hold the people who did what they did to me to finally hold them at least partially accountable in an effort to keep such people from dong what they did to me to others. I am mentally ill. I have a rifle. I have a permit to purchase a handgun and other firearms demanding a background check in my state. I had none of these until the day Obama announced his assault against rights I did much care about since I hadn't hunted since I was a kid. Please terminate your vitriolic stigmatization of "the mentally ill" and focus on "the violent". Thank you.
CJ February 13, 2013 at 08:43 PM
As a person who has investigated gun crimes, I can say first hand that MORE GUN LAWS WILL NOT SOLVE THE VIOLENCE PROBLEM. The current laws are hardly enforced so what will new laws do but harm law abiding citizens. This gun law is not about guns, violence or laws, it is about government control and that is scarier to me than all the guns in the USA.
Mark Shean February 15, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Lets turn the 'Bedrock' of the nation into criminals overnight! That is exactly what progressive democrats want to do. Molon Labe!!
Mark Shean February 15, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Who will be the state sanctioned theives that will kick in the doors of honest Americans should Dems get their way? I suggest the ones who draft the bill to confiscate our guns also should be the ones to come get them. Molon Labe!!
Troy trebesch February 16, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Troy Trebesch Looks like its time to leave Minnesota and take my corporation with me, I will not stay in a state that walks on our 2nd ammendment gun rights! What of the people that have hundreds or thousands of dollars in high cap mags and firearms that this would be ban will make illegal? Turn them over to the Gov for dismantling - bullshit! The ban will turn law abiding citizens into felons and the criminals that want to get them and break the law will still do it regardless, this is not the answer.

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