The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 27, 2014

Reporter's Notebook: Cornish finds a gun control bill he likes

It’s not very often that Tony Cornish supports a gun-control bill. After all, this is the legislator whose truck has a decal of a hand grasping a rifle with the caption “From my Cold Dead Hands!”

But the Republican from Vernon Center says he’ll vote for a bill that takes guns away from people accused of domestic assault.

When the bill was first written, a suspect’s guns could be taken away without a hearing and stored by law enforcement. These provisions, and others, stirred up fears that false allegations would lead to gun seizures, Cornish said.

Since then, he and others have worked with the bill’s sponsor, St. Paul Park DFLer Dan Schoen, to modify that language.

“And now it balances the protection of gun owners with the ability to protect spouses from domestic violence with guns,” Cornish said.

For example, a judge must decide that there is a credible threat of harm to a spouse before guns can be taken. There’s also an improved process for having guns returned, Cornish said, that involves a third party storing them instead of law enforcement.

He said he’ll vote for the bill, even though some gun owners will still view it as too much compromise.

But the situation in Vermont, where he said gun advocates are up in arms over a similar bill without these changes, is “a prime example of why it’s better to work together like we did,” Cornish said.

“The best advice is to water them down and protect the rights of gun owners before they pass,” he said.

If that sounds like something other than a full-throated endorsement, well …

“There’s a large belief in the gun community that these laws don’t do a lick of good,” Cornish said.

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