The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 30, 2014

Minn. House approves gun ban for domestic abusers

"If we can protect gun owners' rights and protect wives and children from getting beaten up, then that's the right thing to do," said Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center.

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House passed legislation on Wednesday that bans gun possession by those convicted of child or domestic abuse and those subject to restraining orders.

The bill would require people convicted of child or domestic abuse to give up their firearms for good. A person subject to an order of protection would regain the right of possession when an order expires, though a judge could choose to extend the order.

The bipartisan bill is a rare instance where a majority of Minnesota lawmakers appear willing to place new restrictions on gun possession. Last session, just a few months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., a move fizzled in Minnesota to expand background checks on gun purchasers.

"This bill does not target Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens," Rep. Dan Schoen, the Cottage Grove Democrat sponsoring the bill, said Wednesday on the House floor. "I know this bill will not save every life. But I believe this is an action that will save lives."

Schoen also said on the House floor that the proposal would not allow the government to take guns without due process, nor allow illegal search and seizure.

Longtime gun-rights supporters such as Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, back Schoen's measure. Cornish, a retired peace officer, said much of it is due to trust in Schoen, a policeman who works street patrol.

"I knew he would give me a straight shot," Cornish said this week. "If we can protect gun owners' rights and protect wives and children from getting beaten up, then that's the right thing to do."

National Rifle Association officials didn't return phone calls seeking comment on the legislation.

The Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group based in St. Paul, helped write the bill, said Cornish and the group's president, Andrew Rothman.

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