Minnesota Senate Democrats stand by passage of controversial gun control measures – Twin Cities

By STEVE KARNOWSKI (Associated Press)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota’s Democratic senators, despite a single-vote majority on Friday, stood steadfastly in passing a gun control bill strongly supported by the governor that would bring the embattled state into line with others nationally that have taken steps to change Keep guns out of the state hands of people in crisis and criminals.

Proposals include a “red flag law” that would allow authorities to seek “extreme risk protection orders” from courts to temporarily remove guns from people deemed to pose an imminent threat to others or themselves . The provision is part of a broader public safety budget bill that would also include expanded background checks on arms transfers.

The bill passed late Friday, after around nine hours of debate, by a vote of 34 to 33.

“What we will — finally — provide is a way forward for families and law enforcement who know someone is showing signs of crisis and danger,” said Democratic Sen. Rob Latz of St. Louis Park, chair of the Public Safety Division the Senate Committee. “And it will give them legitimate tools to separate people in crisis from the firearms that surround them.”

Nineteen other states have some form of “red flag” law, Latz noted at a news conference, including several “red flag” laws.

Across the country, some cracks are emerging in the pattern of Republican-controlled states relaxing gun laws while Democratic states like Minnesota are tightening them. Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee wants to call a special session to pass what he avoided calling a “red flag” law, calling it a “toxic political label.” And two Republicans on a Texas Legislative Committee have advocated raising the age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. But it’s far too early to tell Republicans are changing course, even in the face of a record-breaking rate of mass killings in the US

Some of Minnesota’s rural Democratic senators have long been undecided. But a pivotal moment came on Wednesday when one of them, Senator Grant Hauschild of Hermantown, announced that he would support the overall bill. The two gun measures were not part of the public safety budget bill previously passed by the Senate. However, they were added Wednesday in the House-Senate Conference Committee negotiating the final text, and offered political protection to the holdouts by tying them into a much larger public safety package.

Minority Republican senators in the Conference Committee condemned several non-firearms provisions that were added to the public safety bill and were not included in the original Senate-passed version of the bill.

Democrats, who have a more comfortable majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives, scheduled the package for debate late Friday night, believing the Senate would pass it first, but have postponed the debate to Saturday. The House of Representatives had already passed the gun measures as part of its original public safety bill. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has repeatedly said he will sign the law.

The package also includes tougher restrictions on the use of warrants by police. While it is not enough to impose a ban, it only allows for very limited exceptions.

GOP leaders protested that the final version of the 522-page bill was not released until around 2:30 a.m. Friday. Members can only vote up or down on a report of the conference committee. You can’t change it. And Republicans were upset that their votes were excluded in shaping the final text, which they oppose on the Second Amendment and other grounds.

“This bill is actually what constitutes bad legislation,” Lisa Demuth, leader of Cold Spring’s minority Republican faction in the House of Representatives, said at a separate news conference. “Democrats have full control but very little leeway.”

The Minnesota legislature is rushing to wrap up work on the session’s key budget bills ahead of the May 22 adjournment period. Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park told reporters Thursday that she wanted to adjourn the session early — either next Thursday night or early next Friday morning. However, Senate Democratic leaders have not approved.

https://www.twincities.com/2023/05/13/democrats-in-minnesota-senate-hold-firm-to-pass-contentious-gun-control-measures/ Minnesota Senate Democrats stand by passage of controversial gun control measures – Twin Cities


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