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Gun safety bills move forward in MN senate committee

With a DFL majority, the three bills in the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee are still alive.

ST PAUL, Minn. — While similar gun safety bills have been shot down in previous years, a state senate committee heard three bills for the first time. 

The first bill would create universal background checks. While licensed gun dealers already provide these checks, the legislation would make it applicable to individuals selling or giving their firearms. 

Family members of individuals who have died from gun violence spoke up in favor. 

“I'm the father of a murdered daughter,” said Reverend Rold Olson. “In October 2007, our daughter Katherine went to a house in Savage to answer a Craigslist ad for a babysitter. What she encountered was not a woman needing childcare, she encountered a 19-year-old man with his father's pistol. It was over in five minutes.”

But opponents say if a law-abiding citizen were to simply give a friend their gun for a weekend of hunting, it would be complicated.

“The bill is much more likely to catch a good, honest, lawful, peaceable gun owner in a crime than it is to stop a single illegal transfer,” said Rob Doar, vice president of the MN Gun Owners.

Another piece of legislation nicknamed the “Red Flag Bill,” would allow family members to ask a judge to issue an extreme risk protection order to temporarily take away a person’s gun if they could hurt themselves or others.

“Wyatt was a kind, gentle, young man with a great personality,” said Leah Kondes, with Moms Demand Action. “But when he was only 21 years young, he died by suicide. My husband's cousin is a hunter and gun owner. Concerned about his only son’s mental health, John got his guns out of the house. But when Wyatt bought his own gun, there was nothing his father could do.”

Pro-gun groups argued that if a person really wanted to, they could hurt people or themselves with other means. 

“Senate Bill 1117 Only confiscates firearms, so it's a truly interesting gun-grabbing piece of legislation,” said Brian Gosch, the NRA state director. 

The last bill would increase penalties for those who create modifications to already illegal firearms. 

All three bills are still moving through the committee process in the Senate. The same bills are also moving through the House.

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