Sheriff Stanek and Rep. Hilstrom announcing bipartisan gun bill backed by NRA
Protect Minnesota's Heather Martens calls the new gun bill a "cop out" saying it doesn't prevent online sales of Uzis
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -
There's a new compromise on gun safety in the Minnesota Legislature. After weeks of outcry that have pitted crime victims against gun owners, more than six dozen lawmakers have signed on to a new bill to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
The new bill already has 73 co-sponsors in the House. It is meant to find middle ground in the very hot debate about gun safety and balancing the rights of gun owners.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers gathered in front of the House chambers Wednesday to announce the new bill, which focuses on many of the issues that Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has been pushing for in the past couple of weeks.
It requires the Minnesota Department of Human Services to report everyone with a mental health commitment to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
The department would have to file this report within 24 hours of each commitment, and it requires courts to do the same.
The bill also expands the list of "crimes of violence" that would prohibit a felon from owning a gun, and it makes it a felony to perform a straw purchase of a gun to a known criminal.
"What this bill is a meeting of the minds and good legislation," said Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder). "There is nothing in here that any gun owners have to fear about their rights and what we came here to do today is not beat up on any party any legislator or any bill, we came to talk about this bill which is bipartisan."
But the bill is notable for what it leaves out. There is no ban on military-style assault rifles, and there's no provision for universal background checks. The head of Protect Minnesota, Heather Martens, calls that a cop-out.
"I can go into a gun show, I can go online right now I can buy an Uzi, a pistol without a background check and that's just unacceptable," Martens said. "And without addressing that you're not doing any kind of prevention."
In recent weeks it's become obvious that universal background checks did not have enough votes in committees. The proposed ban on assault style rifles also did not have support.
This bill does have the backing of the NRA. A lobbyist for the group told FOX 9 this legislation contains everything that they have advocated for.
The big question now is whether this will get a hearing. The deadline to get bills introduced in committee is coming up next week.