Minnesota House panel to consider 2 gun control bills

The Minnesota Legislature braced Wednesday for its first hearing this session on gun control, with testimony scheduled on bills to require universal criminal background checks for gun purchasers and to let families and police ask courts to take guns from people judged to pose a threat to themselves or others.

Posted: Feb 27, 2019 8:19 AM
Updated: Feb 27, 2019 10:09 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Legislature braced Wednesday for its first hearing this session on gun control, with testimony scheduled on bills to require universal criminal background checks for gun purchasers and to let families and police ask courts to take guns from people judged to pose a threat to themselves or others.

The hearing before the House public safety committee was set for 7 p.m. at the Capitol. The committee chairman, Rep. Carlos Mariani, tried twice to schedule it at schools to highlight public concerns over recent school shootings. But the St. Paul Democrat had to back down after gun owners pressed the Edina and Hopkins districts to allow them to carry their weapons into the hearing.

Mariani said he intended for his committee to pass both bills Wednesday night, but would take them up again Thursday evening if need be.

The two bills are high on the new House Democratic majority's agenda, and Gov. Tim Walz reaffirmed his support in his budget proposal last week. But it's not clear if they'll get anywhere in the Senate, where Republicans hold a three-seat majority and some rural Democrats oppose gun control.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus staged a rally in the Capitol Rotunda on Saturday to show its opposition to the bills. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told the cheering crowd that he could say with confidence that background checks "ain't gonna happen."

And the Nisswa Republican vowed that while the House is likely to pass the "red flag" bill allowing authorities to temporarily confiscate guns, "the Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats in the Senate will stop it."

But the lead Senate sponsor of the proposals, St. Louis Park Democrat Ron Latz, said Tuesday that he's not ready to give up. Domestic violence-related deaths, deaths of police officers by firearms and suicide deaths all have fallen in states with similar laws, he said. And he said there's strong public support for the legislation.

"I think it would be a mistake for any political leadership to get out front and say we're going to stand in the way of all of it," Latz said in an interview, adding that he's ready to try to force a vote if the Senate leadership won't schedule a hearing or floor vote.

"We're going to have a vote of some sort in the Senate on these bills before the end of session," he said. "We'll use whatever procedural mechanism we have available to us to get that."

Latz tried to force a vote on similar legislation last year but his procedural move failed. Flipping suburban Republican senators in districts where Democrats captured House seats last November will be the key this time, he said, adding that gun control has become a "decision point" in how suburban mothers vote.

"It might ultimately come down to the ballot box in November 2020," he said.

Also Tuesday, Walz repeated his condemnation of remarks at the rally by Rep. Cal Bahr , who told the crowd it was "time to start riding herd" on people who would roll back gun rights, adding: "They will not go quietly into the good night. They need to be kicked to the curb and stomped on and run over a few times."

The East Bethel Republican on Monday claimed that by "they" he meant the bills, not people, but Walz didn't buy it.

"My pro tip of the day is, when you make a mistake like that just own it and say 'I'm sorry,'" the governor told reporters.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
Meeker611
Morrison591
Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
Pipestone371
Mille Lacs342
Renville322
Wabasha310
Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren200
Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
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