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2010 Minnesota Legislative Wrap-Up
For the first time in decades, a proactive gun violence prevention bill, HF2960, got a hearing in the Crime Victims/Criminal Records Subdivision of the Minnesota House. The bill would have closed the gun show loophole, which allows buyers to avoid a background check at a gun show by going to an unlicensed seller. Supporters of the bill sent thousands of emails and made hundreds of phone calls to legislators for the bill. Proponents outnumbered opponents at a rate of 10-1 for the bill hearing, and outnumbered them again for a second hearing within days of the first!
Many calls and emails also helped legislators stand firm in conference committee against an amendment to outlaw the collection of data about an individual's gun ownership by the health department. It did not get out of conference committee -- but, in a disappointing end-of-session development, it became law as part of negotiations with the governor over the health and human services bill.
CSM was the only voice to testify against the amendment at the Capitol during the last, hectic weeks of the session. The gun lobby introduced it as an amendment directly onto the floor, to avoid the scrutiny bills normally get in committee hearings. Its sponsors presented it as harmless, saying it was just intended to protect the privacy of concealed carry permit holders, and they said the health department doesn't collect this information anyway.
But in fact, it is an unprecedented outlawing of the gathering of data by the health department. The department already collects sensitive information, such as the ways in which patients contract AIDS, while fully protecting patient privacy. This amendment is aimed to hamper efforts like the National Violent Death Registry, a national project being advanced by David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health to try to address the chronic lack of information about how people are dying and with what kinds of weapons.
The gun lobby consistently works to deny the public access to data. The lobby has already suppressed information in the form of the Tiahrt Amendment, which forbids the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from sharing with the public any information about where crime guns are coming from.
"Shoot First" Bill Would Make Killing a First Resort
A "Shoot First" bill was introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate that would give the right to all citizens to serve as judge, jury and executioner. In Florida, where this law has already been enacted, it is called, “Shoot the Avon Lady.” Minnesotans already can use deadly force to defend themselves and others from great bodily harm, but Minnesotans are not allowed to kill as a first resort when they could safely walk away. (Except in the home -- if someone breaks in, the homeowner is not required to retreat.) In a public place, the bill would allow the first-resort killing of any person deemed threatening, even if the person is unarmed. Near the home, the bill would allow a homeowner to kill anyone who enters the fenced yard or outbuilding, even when the trespasser poses no threat.
The NRA has been taking this bill around the country attempting to get it passed. It is law in Florida, Texas, Kentucky, and a number of other states.
2009 Background Check Bill
BACKGROUND CHECK BILL INTRODUCED FOR ALL SALES OF PISTOLS AND ASSAULT WEAPONS
A bill to require background checks for all private transfers of handguns and assault weapons was introduced in the Minnesota state legislature on Feb. 18, 2009. Representative Michael Paymar and Senator Yvonne Prettner Solon are chief authors of this bill, HF 953/SF 1165. In the House, both Democrats and Republicans have signed on in support. This bill would close the 'gun show loophole' and make it harder for prohibited persons to obtain dangerous weapons in Minnesota.