The Minnesota House passed two controversial gun control bills Thursday night after hours of contentious debate.
The first bill, House File 8, would require criminal background checks on private transfers of firearms. Parties involved in a private transfer must complete a transferee permit application form and retain a record of the transfer for 20 years. Failure to do so is a gross misdemeanor under the bill.
“I don’t think it would be any surprise to any member of this chamber that our nation is quite unusual in the rate at which we lose residents to firearms – a rate of death that equals some countries that are even at war and much higher than any other country we would wish to compare ourselves to,” Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St.Paul) said when introducing his bill.
Pinto’s bill also raises the age to receive a firearm in a private transfer from 18 to 21.
“They are steps to help keep guns out of the hands of people who have shown themselves to be dangerous,” he said of the bills.
The second bill, House File 9, was sponsored by Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights) and would allow family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court to have firearms taken away from people who pose a danger to themselves or others. The legislation, nicknamed a “red-flag” law, has been passed in 17 other states and the District of Columbia.
“It’s important to recognize here in Minnesota that we are facing a public-health crisis. Four out of five gun deaths in Minnesota are suicides,” said Richardson. “We know that we have the opportunity to save lives.”
House File 8 passed in a vote of 69-62 and House File 9 passed in a vote of 68-62. Both bills will now head to the Republican-controlled Senate for consideration.
Gov. Tim Walz applauded the passage of the bills in a statement posted to Twitter Thursday night.
“Great news out of the Minnesota House tonight! The red-flag law and background check bills are commonsense pieces of legislation that will reduce gun violence in our state,” he said. “It’s now time for the Senate to stand on the side of Minnesotans – not the gun lobby – and pass this bill.”
Great news out of the MN House tonight! The red flag law and background check bills are commonsense pieces of legislation that will reduce gun violence in our state.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) February 28, 2020
At least five counties across the state have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in response to the bills being considered in the House. As such, these counties will refuse to use their law enforcement resources to enforce unconstitutional gun control laws and won’t aid state or federal agencies in their enforcement.
Members of the New House Republican Caucus said Thursday that they plan to send a letter to every county in the state encouraging them to adopt Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions.
“These bills both represent clear and deliberate violations of the United States Constitution. It is irresponsible for a state legislature to pass laws that violate the Constitution and also place the citizenry and law enforcement in harm’s way,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa).
The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus noted on Twitter that the House DFL deleted a social media poll after 86 percent of respondents said they opposed the criminal background checks bill.
Earlier tonight the MN House DFL posted an online poll thinking it would show support for their gun control agenda.
Instead after 8500+ votes & 86% of poll respondents OPPOSING THE DFL GUN CONTROL AGENDA… what did they do?
They deleted the poll from Facebook.
Poof! Gone. pic.twitter.com/sRHFLKkoj0
— MN Gun Owners Caucus (@mnguncaucus) February 25, 2020
“It’s unfortunate that rather than focus on common-sense policies which would have a positive impact on public safety without infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of Minnesotans, the House DFL has decided once again to push for divisive gun control legislation which faced broad bipartisan opposition this evening,” Rob Doar, the group’s political director, said in a statement. “It’s clear that once again partisan politics and their zeal for total control of state government has taken priority over actually improving public safety in the state.”
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