After days of hearings in Minnesota House committee meetings, the state senate is now hearing testimony on more gun control legislation for the second day at the Capitol in St. Paul. The Senate Judiciary Committee is taking input this week from experts and the public regarding proposed gun control legislation in Minnesota.
Hundreds of protestors opposed to the legislation have flooded the capitol building making it necessary for the senate to render the meetings “closed” to anyone without a ticket. Overflow rooms, including the Grand Hall, have been streaming live video of the meetings.
Bills up for public testimony include increased ineligibility for people with mental health problems, increased fees and penalties for transfers of firearms and the expansion of background checks for gun purchases.
Testimony on Thursday was nearly identical to the house hearings and included members of the NRA, the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, Protect MN, Sami Rahamim and Professor Joe Olson of Hamline University. To read what was said in the house, click here.
Senate File 458, which modifies the eligibility of legal firearms owners to transfer or sell guns privately, was highly contested and took the most testimony.
Also testifying in favor of strict controls on gun ownership and purchases was Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak who said that Minneapolis has seen a decrease in the number of gun-related crimes in his city. Ironically, the mayor is still in favor of disarming Minnesotans.
Shortly after Rybak’s testimony, Chris Rager of the NRA used the microphone to shoot holes in nearly every statistic proponents of the legislation had set forth to that point in the hearings.
“Gun purchases are at an all time high, yet gun crime is at an all time low,” said Rager. “There is no evidence to suggest that background checks diminish gun crime.”
Rager gave a lesson to Minnesota senators in how gun purchases work, including gun show purchases, and what the federal background check system truly entails. Participation in the system is voluntary by the states and is highly unreliable. Rager is in favor of more local control and says background checks aren’t likely to affect crime statistics.
“Criminals have not and will not submit to background checks. They are criminals.” said Rager, which he said will do nothing to stop violent crime.
The chairman of the Judiciary Committee and author of three proposed bills is Senator Ron Latz, a democrat from the first tier suburbs of the Twin Cities. When asked if the proposed bill #458 regarding transfer of firearms makes the case that the citizenry cannot be trusted to know whether or not a person is a felon, Latz responded, “I think in general, that’s correct. The average person doesn’t do a background check.”
More testimony is expected today as 7 more gun control bills are taken up in the committee. All proposed legislation is expected to be “laid over” for inclusion in a larger omnibus bill that is to be introduced within weeks. The omnibus bill could include legislation related to silica sand mining, education, early voting and gun control, as well as other proposals that have been in both House and Senate committees for several weeks.
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