The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 6, 2013

Legislature debates gun restriction bills



Dill said he's on the same page with the National Rifle Association in its opposition to the background check bill and most of the other gun proposals, and believes he has enough votes in the House to defeat changes in gun laws opposed by the NRA.

Gov. Mark Dayton, also a Democrat, has not wholeheartedly embraced new gun control measures; he told the Star Tribune on Monday that any changes would need support from rural lawmakers in order to get his signature.

The House committee chairman, St. Paul Democrat Michael Paymar, said he intends to assemble the best state-level proposals into an umbrella bill likely to be dubbed the "Gun Violence Prevention Act." He said the House is likely to vote on the package later in February.

The gun law push is less active in the Senate, also led by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said votes on any gun legislation would take a back seat to the Legislature's budget.

Besides the background check proposal, lawmakers on Tuesday reviewed a bill to let local police departments order a mental health evaluation on people who apply for the state permit that's required to carry a weapon. Other gun bills include proposals to ban the sale of assault-style automatic rifles and of certain types of ammunition clips.

Paymar wouldn't say which among the dozen proposals he thought should definitely be part of the final gun bill. Heather Martens, executive director of the gun control advocacy group Protect Minnesota, predicted the background check provision would almost certainly be part of the package.

"We're going to make some real progress this session," Martens said. She said people directly affected by gun violence understand the need for law changes, pointing to testimony Tuesday by the 17-year-old son of the Minneapolis business owner killed in last fall's fatal shootings at Accent Signage Systems.

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