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House Committees Meet on the Impact of Gun Violence on Children, Pass Gun Violence Prevention Bills

Thursday, February 29, 2024

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee met jointly with the House Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee to receive a presentation on the significant increase of firearm deaths among children. The Public Safety committee also heard and passed two gun violence prevention bills. HF 4300, authored by Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL – Roseville), sets standards for safe storage of firearms, and HF 601, authored by Rep. Kaohly Her (DFL – Saint Paul) requires the reporting of lost and stolen firearms.

The committees heard testimony from Dr. Rebekah Mannix on her research into children's fatality rates. Her presentation showed firearm fatalities of children are up considerably in the last two decades, with an increase of total firearms injuries (fatal and not) increasing by 87% in the last 10 years, even as child deaths by car crashes fell by nearly half.

“Firearms are the leading cause of deaths of children in the United States- a statistic matched by no other developed country,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul), chair of the House Children and Families Committee. “We must require safe storage and reporting of lost or stolen guns. We have to do more to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them- our kids are counting on us.”

The Committees then heard presentations and testimony on the two gun violence prevention bills. The first, HF 4300 authored by Rep. Becker-Finn, requires firearms to be stored securely, an important step to prevent access by children and others who are ineligible to possess guns. While millions of responsible gun owners safely secure their firearms, an estimated half of all gun owners actually lock their guns, let alone store them securely as experts recommend. Several testifiers shared their stories of unsecured firearms leading to tragic deaths of loved ones.

“One of the cornerstones of being a responsible gun owner is the safe storage of your firearms. For every child who accesses a gun, an adult has been negligent,” said Rep. Becker-Finn. “This bill takes a big step towards guaranteeing the safe storage of all firearms. The safe storage of firearms prevents tragedies and terrible accidents.”

The second bill, HF 601 authored by Rep. Her, requires gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement. Lost and stolen guns are often used in crimes or end up in the hands of those who may cause harm to themselves or others.

“As a firearm owner, I know the importance of responsible ownership,” said Rep. Her. “This bill would help hold firearm owners accountable, and give our law enforcement another tool to help keep our communities safe and free of gun violence.

After the joint testimony and discussion, the House Children and Families Committee adjourned, whereafter the Public Safety Committee continued to meet, passing the two bills.

“Today, we took an important look at gun violence and how it impacts our children. Nationally it remains the leading cause of death for children. This is an unacceptable fact, and I’m glad that we are taking serious action on the issue,” said Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL - Shoreview) chair of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee. “The bills we passed are important aspects of reducing gun violence against Minnesota children. We will continue to pursue policies which make our state a safer place for all children.”

Video of Thursday’s hearing is available on House Public Information Services YouTube channel.



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