Gun control legislation likely dead at state capitol

8:12 AM, May 3, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - A push to strengthen the state's gun control laws has ended, for now, at the state Capitol.

Democratic leaders say they simply lacked the votes to push the bill through before the end of session.

"As far as I know, there was not Republican support for the bill, and a lot of the rural Democrats said they couldn't support it," said DFL Rep. Michael Paymar of St. Paul.

Paymar had been pushing for the legislation, including what he called the most recent "watered down" version that was making its way through the capitol.

"We took off the table the assault weapons ban. We took off the table the restrictions on high-capacity magazines. And all we centered on, is this idea that you should have a background check if you're going to purchase a handgun or semi-automatic weapon," Paymar said.

Paymar said the polls suggested people supported their position.

"80 percent of the public supports background checks, so there's a little bit of a disconnect here, and I don't get it," he said.

Gun rights advocates disagreed with that characterization.

"It's a misleading poll and nobody believes it," said Republican Rep. Tony Cornish of Vernon Center.

Cornish said gun rights advocates predicted the push for new gun control legislation in the wake of high profile mass shootings, including those in Colorado, Connecticut and Minneapolis.

"After every one you can predict a big cry for gun control, but it seems the public gets educated after that and sees what it all entails. And they come back around, like they are nationally and statewide," Cornish said.

Despite the near certainty the legislation will not advance this session, lawmakers on both sides do predict future gun control conversations.

"Oh, we're not going away," Paymar said.

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