The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 30, 2014

Our View: Gun restrictions in domestic cases reasonable

Why it matters: A plan to restrict firearms from domestic abusers is reasonable and will reduce the risk of violence

A proposal before the Legislature to restrict firearms from domestic abusers is no guarantee to prevent gun violence, but it may very well help reduce the risk of gun violence.

That’s the tradeoff that’s important with these kinds of laws. A proposal supported by Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center -- one of the most outspoken gun rights advocates in the Legislature -- calls for restricting some firearms, including rifles, from domestic abusers who have been convicted of abuse or stalking. It also calls for those who have a restraining order imposed on them to give up their guns.

Cornish changed some of the original legislation to make sure gun owners got due process and that guns confiscated would go to a friend or relative instead of law enforcement. Those facing confiscation of their weapons due to a restraining order would get to make their case before a judge before the weapons were taken away.

Cornish backing the bill with licensed police officer Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park and the bipartisan nature of the bill means it has a good chance of passing. A vote was scheduled for Wednesday in the House.

Minnesota law already prohibits convicted abusers from owning handguns so the new proposal would apply to rifles and any other weapons.

While restricting guns in no guarantee they won’t be used for violence, groups aiming to end and prevent domestic violence believe this narrow niche legislation on guns will save lives. About half of domestic violence deaths in Minnesota in the last few years have involved firearms, according to a report in the Star Tribune.

Domestic violence also is on the rise. Law enforcement notes cases have doubled in the last two years, with 38 deaths in Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune report. The Mankato region has not been immune to cases of domestic violence, with at least four gun-related domestic murders in the last four years.

Organizations that support victims of domestic abuse say while this measure seems small, Minnesota would be leading the way on a very critical issue of gun violence.

The authors seem to be taking extra care to make sure gun owners have due process, we should take the same care to make sure domestic violence victims can feel a little more safe.



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