The Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee is convening Thursday and Friday to review a handful of bills related to gun rights and regulations.
THURSDAY GUN CONTROL AGENDA
- Requiring all gun sales to go through licensed dealers.
- Strengthening restrictions on access to guns by those with mental illness.
- Expanding liability for people who help others get guns they are not allowed to own.
- Allow some retired peace officers to carry guns without a permit.
SENATE WON'T CONSIDER ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN
The judiciary committee chairman says the Minnesota Senate will not consider a controversial assault weapons ban that was introduced in the House, saying that issue is best handled at the federal level.
Uniform crime statistics from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension underscore what prosecutors and law enforcement officers have been saying for years -- that access to handguns is more of a safety concern than military-style weapons.
In the past 11 years, there have been more than 11,000 homicides in Minnesota. Of those, 54 percent were committed with handguns and 7 percent involved rifles or shotguns.
MINNESOTANS SOUND OFF
People on both sides of the issue began lining the halls of the Capitol in order to get a ticket to watch or testify hours before the noon hearing began on Thursday.
One man who had never been to the Capitol before took the day off to make his voice heard.
"Law enforcement carries AR-15s, and they carry Glocks with 17-round clips because that's what they have to do to keep their officers safe," Cory Brikemeyer said. "Why shouldn't a citizen have the same right?"
Brikemeyer, who has a permit to carry, legally brought his gun to the debate.
So many people arrived at the Capitol that two overflow rooms were opened, and many victims of gun violence shared emotional stories with lawmakers.
"Minnesota gun violence victims deserve a vote on these bills," said Mary Streufert, whose daughter was murdered 21 years ago.
The hearings stretched late into the night, but the emotional testimony did not tire. Naomi Koenig shared the story of how she watched a man try to kidnap her young daughter in a parking lot as she explained why she opposes the effort.
"I screamed and I yelled and I tried to get him to stop, and I knew that I was no mach for him -- except I have a permit to carry," she said. "I pulled my legally-permitted gun. Not a shot was fired. The police were called and this two-time convicted child sex offender was arrested again."
An additional day of public testimony is scheduled for Friday.
BIDEN PUSHES GUN CONTROL IN CONNECTICUT
Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak Thursday at a gun violence conference at Western Connecticut State University – just a few miles from the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Biden will push President Obama's proposals for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition. A panel including the parents of one of the Sandy Hook students killed will also discuss mental health and school safety initiatives.
Gun makers and lobbyists were not invited to participate in the conference in Connecticut, but officials say gun rights advocates will have opportunities at future forums to express their points of view.