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Republicans to resist gun reforms in Minnesota

Back-to-back mass shootings won't change the dynamic at the Minnesota Capitol, where Senate Republicans still oppose universal background checks and red flags laws

ST PAUL, Minn. — In the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump Monday again endorsed so-called "red flags" laws allowing courts to temporarily remove firearms from people in a mental health crisis.

"We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and if they do those firearms can be taken through rapid due process," the President said in a televised speech to the nation.

Red flags court orders, formally known as Extreme Risk Protections Orders, are already the law in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

"These laws are in use in other, many other states, where they’re working very well," Rep. Dave Pinto, a St. Paul Democrat, explained.

"Law enforcement will take a look at the evidence and decide if there’s concrete evidence to present to a court, and then a court provides a review of the evidence and decides." 

Minnesota's DFL-controlled House passed a Red Flags and a universal background checks bill in 2019, but those pieces of legislation didn't receive committee hearings in the Republican-controlled Senate.

An effort to add those gun control provisions to the omnibus public safety bill during a House-Senate conference committee in May ended in a five-to-five tie, along party lines.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has pledged to gun owner rights groups that he would block any new gun control legislation.  The president's support of red flags laws, in theory, would provide some political cover. 

But Sen. Gazelka remains unconvinced. He releases a statement Monday asserting that universal background checks -- extending those checks to cover private firearms sales between individuals -- won't stop mass killings.

"We can continue to focus on mental health issues broadly and tougher sentencing on felons caught using guns in their criminal activities."

Gov. Tim Walz told reporters he called Sen. Gazelka in hopes he would at least agree to a hearing on gun safety bills between now and February when state lawmakers return to the Capitol.

"Certainly, Senator Gazelka and I have worked closely together and I’ve asked to try to bring us back together, let’s try and do a hearing," Walz remarked.

"These are not radical ideas, and they actually do make a difference."

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