There’s a gun debate closer to home

Mike KnaakEditorial, Opinion, Sartell – St. Stephen, St. Joseph0 Comments

Two weeks ago, the agenda for this legislative session looked pretty routine.

After a summer of court battles, Gov. Mark Dayton said he was ready to sign a bill funding the Legislature.

Work to adjust Minnesota’s tax code to the new federal tax rates began even before the Legislation convened on Feb. 20.

The Republicans are angry about the extra money needed to fix a new vehicle-registration system.

And Dayton’s $1.5-billion bonding bill will face opposition from Republicans who want to spend less on maintenance of colleges, universities and state infrastructure and make transportation and wastewater-treatment upgrades a priority.

That was the scene before Feb. 14 when a disturbed man with a semi-automatic weapon killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida.

Now gun-safety and firearms issues are at the top of the agenda.

Five pieces of legislation have been filed and there will probably be more. Three measures that increase restrictions have been proposed by Democrats while two, including a “stand-your-ground” bill, have been introduced by Republicans.

Rep. Brian Johnson, a Republican from the Cambridge area, chairs the House public-safety committee, and he has said he will be a strong Second Amendment advocate. These bills will need to pass through his committee.

The stand-your-ground bill, HF 238, expands situations where it’s legal to take another person’s life. The measure would allow lethal force to stop a variety of felonies, whether a person is in their home or not. Those crimes include assaults, arson, burglary, robbery and kidnapping.

A bill called “permit-less carry” by its critics eliminates the need for a gun permit on public property entirely in most cases, except for people who cannot legally carry guns, such as felons. The bill is HF 188.

Rep. John Considine, DFL-Mankato, introduced a bill, HF 2781, that would make “bump stocks” illegal.

Sen. Ron Latz, a DFLer from St. Louis Park, has introduced two bills. SF 1261 calls for universal background checks on all gun sales, including online.

Latz has also proposed SF 1262 that would allow law enforcement and family members to petition a court to prohibit a person from possessing firearms if they pose “a significant danger of bodily injury to self or to other persons by possessing a firearm.”

When legislators returned to the Capitol, they were met by an unexpectedly large crowd for a gun-control rally of more than 200 people.

But you don’t have to travel to St. Paul to make your voice heard. Here’s how to contact our local legislators.

Rep. Jeff Howe represents the St. Joseph area. Email him at rep.jeff.howe@house.mn or call his office at 652-296-4373.

Rep. Tim O’Driscoll represents the Sartell area. Email him at rep.tim.odriscoll@house.mn or call him at 651-296-7808.

Contact Sen. Michelle Fischbach by email at sen.michelle.fischbach@senate.mn or call her at 651-296-2084.

The Republicans control the House and Senate, so it’s important to share your views with our legislators, who are all Republicans.

While gun safety and Second-Amendment debates dominate the national discussion, remember to take part in the discussion closer to home.

Author: Mike Knaak

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