St. Paul, Minn. – Today Republican State Senator Warren Limmer of Maple Grove cast one of the deciding votes to defeat by a 5-5 party-line vote two gun violence prevention bills that are broadly supported by Minnesota families, law enforcement officials, students, and public safety organizations.
Legislators who serve on the Public Safety and Judiciary conference committee, of which Limmer is the co-chair, took on-the-record votes today to establish “red flag” laws and criminal background checks for firearm purchases. According to the most recent public opinion polling, as many as 90 percent of Minnesotans support these gun violence prevention bills.
"Minnesotans are demanding that we do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, but this session Republicans have opposed every effort to do that,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL - Saint Paul), chief author of House File 8, the criminal background check bill. “Today, they chose not to move forward on two gun safety measures despite broad public support. That is deeply disappointing to thousands of families who have been touched by gun violence and expect action."
Minnesota’s background check system currently has loopholes allowing dangerous individuals to obtain guns via online dealers or through private sales. Evidence shows expanded background checks will save lives, and states which have taken this approach have experienced lower homicide rates, lower firearm suicide rates, and less firearm trafficking.
"Working to save lives by preventing gun suicides and homicides is not a partisan issue,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL - Mendota Heights), chief author of House File 9, the “red flag” bill. “That is why Republicans and Democrats in other states have carried and passed red flag bills, which have already saved lives.”
Extreme Risk Protection Orders (also known as the “red flag” law) would allow law enforcement officials to temporarily restrict access to firearms if a court of law determines an individual may be a threat to themselves or others. Red flag laws have a proven record in other states of reducing suicides, homicides, and mass shootings.
The first state-level “red flag” law was approved 20 years ago in Connecticut, in 1999. Fifteen states total, plus the District of Columbia, have extreme risk protection order laws on the books today, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington -- while another 21 have taken some form of action to approve such a law.
DFLers in the Legislature have continuously worked to pass these measures against Republican opposition. A fact sheet about steps other states have taken to address gun violence, many with Republican leadership, is available here.