Tag Archives: David Dill

Legislative gun bills: sound and fury signifying little?

This week has been “gun week” at the Capitol, as the House Public Safety Committee has held hearings on a number of proposed bills that expected to be whittled down and consolidated into an omnibus gun violence reduction bill.  Much of the coverage of hearings thus far has focused on the occasionally heated words going back and forth over the issue and the various proposals.  Thus far, there have been 17 bills introduced in the House, and eight in the Senate (as of February 6):

gunbills

But which of these bills is likely to make the cut, and be approved by the Legislature?  Despite the DFL holding majorities in both houses, passage of any significant gun control legislation is far from a certainty.  Many rural DFL legislators hold positions that more closely align with the National Rifle Association than their metro colleagues.  Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk earned high marks from the NRA until last session, when he voted against the so-called “Castle Doctrine” expansion bill.  In the House, Iron Range DFL Rep. David Dill believes he has enough votes to block many of the above initiatives.  And, Governor Mark Dayton has been lukewarm at best about new gun regulations.

The final package of bills is likely, in fact, to be rather incremental — not the sort of “gun grab” that many gun proponents have been warning against.   What’s likely to be in there?  Here’s what I expect:

  • A form of the Goodwin/Rosenthal bills making it more difficult for violent felons to get their firearm rights restored.
  • Improved mental health screening as part of the background check process, although it may look quite different than the Schoen bill
  • The Latz/Lesch bill (also supported by Sen. Julianne Ortman) expanding the crime of violence definition and modifying criminal penalties for illegal firearm possession

Some other possibilities include the Johnson bill to criminalize false gun theft/loss reports and a modified version of the Simonson body armor bill that would instead increase penalties for those who commit crimes while wearing it.

However, the more controversial proposals — like the Hausman bills on assault weapons and large capacity magazine bans — likely don’t have the votes to make it out of the Legislature.  Even Paymar’s universal background check bill appears to be on thin ice from a votes perspective, despite the fact polling shows broad support for it.

That said, all of the more likely proposals are — despite a lower profile — bills that can make a real impact on gun violence.  Sometimes moderation and incrementalism pays off.

[Featured image is State Rep. Tony Cornish’s “Gun Week” fashion statement, including AK-47 lapel pin, from Pat Kessler’s Twitter stream.]

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