Tag Archives: Michael Paymar

Leidiger, Hoppe back compromise gun control bill

Carver County State Representatives Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) and Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer) have signed on as co-authors of a compromise gun control bill, H.F. 1323, which contains only measures that have significant bipartisan support.  More controversial measures, such as universal background checks and bans on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, are not included in the bill.

Provisions in the bill, chief authored by Debra Hilstrom (D-Brooklyn Center) include:

  • requirements to more quickly send state data to the national background check database
  • expand the parameters which disqualify people convicted of violent crimes from owning a gun
  • increased penalties for illegal gun possession and “straw purchases” (where someone buys a gun on behalf of someone who is prohibited from owning a weapon)
  • making it a crime to falsely report a gun as stolen

73 House members (17 DFL, and 56 GOP) are sponsoring the bill, which also has the support of the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association and the National Rifle Association.  That’s a majority of the House’s 134 members.

Despite the broad support, however, the bill is not without its critics.  House Public Safety Committee Chair Michael Paymar (D-St. Paul), who earlier introduced a bill that included universal background checks, has indicated he won’t give the new bill a committee hearing.  In the State Senate, meanwhile, the Judiciary Committee is poised to also move forward a bill containing universal background checks.  No Senate version of the Hilstrom bill has been introduced yet, although this bill would seem to fit the parameters of what Sen. Julianne Ortman was talking about when she discussed alternative legislation to the Senate bill (S.F. 235).

Resistance from the critical committee chairs in both houses may mean that supporters will be forced to engage in some parliamentary maneuvering to get this bill to the floor for a vote.  This bill clearly opens the fissures in the DFL party on this issue, as well as revealing a gap in the law enforcement community, as the police chiefs and officers have lined up behind bills with universal background checks. It should make for some interesting times at the Capitol over the next two months.

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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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