Day 2 of the Public Safety Committee hearings in the Minnesota State House attracted hundreds of pro-Second Amendment advocates, detailed testimony and even a firearm demonstration.
Today’s hearing focused on House File Number 241, which, if enacted, will ban certain firearms, limit ammunition capacities, require additional background checks and in-home gun storage inspections, firearm confiscation upon death, as well as other measures to restrict the lawful possession and use of firearms in Minnesota.
The chief author of the bill, Representative Alice Hausman (D) presented opening statements for approximately 5 minutes and then promptly handed off the microphone to Heather Martens without taking questions. Martens is not a co-author of the bill, nor is she a Minnesota legislator. Martens is Executive Director of the anti-Second Amendment activist group called Protect Minnesota. Hausman’s assistant confirmed she had a commitment to attend at the Ordway Theater involving a homeschool group that took precedent over the hearing of her bill. The event was scheduled in January and Hausman is not a member of the Public Safety Committee which regularly meets at that time. Hausman didn’t elaborate on the qualifications of Martens to act in her absence, but according to legislators at the Capitol, Martens is routinely seen lobbying House members.
“The reason we are considering this [assault weapons ban] today,” protested Martens, “is because of the children lost at Sandy Hook.” She then displayed the photos of children lost in the tragedy in Newtown, CT in December.
Ironically, none of the provisions in House File Number 241 would have prevented the murders at Sandy Hook.
Representative Tony Cornish drew applause from the obviously pro-Second Amendment crowd several times, once for calling the false statistics used in testimony as “preposterous.” After about the third time the crowd offered applause, Cornish asked that the public please refrain from reaction as it, “makes our side look bad.”
Claiming the proposed legislation to be “failed policy… that has been tried before,” members of the National Rifle Association provided testimony in opposition to the bill along with high ranking members of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance and regular Minnesota residents.
Rob Doar, a firearm instructor, provided the committee with a lesson in firearms, equipment and the cosmetics of rifles referred to as “assault weapons” in the proposed legislation. When Doar took 2 rifles out of their cases to demonstrate flaws in the bill, the media cameras fired off photos more rapidly than a machine gun. See the video here.
Doar explained the use of the protruding grip, the pistol grip and other features that are subject to being banned and confiscated should the bill pass as written. He demonstrated how certain features were used for safety and made the point clearly that the bill was written by someone without proper knowledge of firearms. The Chairman of the committee, Representative Michael Paymar (D) asked that the House Researcher get more information to members and that he is “not an expert in firearms.”
Perhaps the most moving and articulate testimony came from the father whose 8 year old son was shot some years ago. John Booth told the story of a drunken man’s rage and the resulting gunshot that severely injured his son.
“No amount of gun control… would have stopped that guy from doing a bad thing,” said Booth as the crowds in both the hearing room and overflow rooms erupted in applause. “Why would you take away my or my son’s Constitutional Right to protect ourselves?”
Despite the intense media attention and hundreds of activists in the building, several legislators arrived late and/or left early, missing key components of the committee meeting, which has been provided for the purpose of hearing from the public. Representative Steve Simon (D), who also arrived late to the hearing, left before its conclusion. Representatives Savick (D), Mullery (D), Schoen (D) and Lesch (D) all exited the hearing prior to the conclusion of opposition testimony.
Representative Kieffer (R) stated for the record at the hearing’s end her distaste with the members who had left.
NOTE: Representative Hausman’s assistant said that Hausman was disappointed to miss the presenting of her bill, but as she is not a member of the Public Safety Committee, she had not anticipated having to be present at today’s hearing. She had made her commitment to the students of Butterfield Homeschool before the committee schedule had been set.
NOTE: Representative Simon returned a call for inquiry as to his reason for missing so much of the hearing but this writer hasn’t yet been able to connect with him. An update to this story will be provided at such time that Representative Simon is reached.
NOTE: Several calls were made to legislative aids to determine the reasons for nearly all of the Democrats in the committee to have left during the opposition testimony. Only the above were returned.
Read more! NRA Publishes List of Gun Control Advocates
Gun Control Coming to Minnesota?
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