Democrats try to expand gun background checks
ST. PAUL -- A new effort to require background checks on all Minnesota gun buyers began Thursday, but gun owner groups, Republicans and some rural Democrats may have difficulty backing it. Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in ...
ST. PAUL -- A new effort to require background checks on all Minnesota gun buyers began Thursday, but gun owner groups, Republicans and some rural Democrats may have difficulty backing it.
Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Everytown Survivor Network gathered Democratic lawmakers, law enforcement personnel and prosecutors to promote the attempt.
"We are not targeting the Second Amendment," said Democratic Rep. Dan Schoen, a Cottage Grove police officer.
The amendment, which gives Americans the right to own guns, goes "hand-in-hand with responsibility," he said.
Background checks already are required when guns are bought from a federally licensed dealer. That accounts for many of Minnesota's sales.
However, the bill Schoen and Sen. Ron Latz, D-St. Lewis Park, are introducing also would require background checks when guns are purchased at gun shows, something Schoen said would take 90 seconds. The legislation also would apply to guns bought over the Internet when they are handed over in person on Minnesota soil, as well as individual-to-individual sales.
Latz and Schoen said their bill allows Minnesotans to sell guns to other members of their families without background checks.
Schoen admitted that it will be tough to get through the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee. Its chairman confirmed that when he said that he would give the bill a hearing.
"In most every instance, when lawbreakers use a gun in a crime they have secured that gun through borrowing, burglary or theft -- not from a gun show purchase or from private sales," Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said. "This universal background check proposal is nothing more than a scare tactic to make it appear that, if approved, gun crimes are going to disappear."
Executive Director Bryan Strawser of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus said the Latz-Schoen bill is an attempt to register gun owners.
"In fact, this bill is nothing more than a gun owner registration bill, requiring law-abiding citizens to submit government paperwork for any purchase of transfer of a firearm," Strawser said.
In announcing their legislation, Schoen and Latz repeatedly said they are not requiring registration. Schoen said the legislation only is extending background check requirements that already apply to most purchases.
The issue frequently arises in the Legislature. Two years ago, a committee Latz leads featured several highly emotional meetings on gun-control issues. Most legislative Republicans oppose tightening gun laws, as do many rural Democrats.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, said that while a move like Latz and Schoen propose is popular statewide, that is not the case for many rural districts.