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House Public Safety Committee advances bills to prevent gun violence, law enforcement voices strong support

Friday, February 3, 2023

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House Public Safety Committee approved a series of bills to prevent gun violence. The hearing took place in conjunction with National Gun Violence Survivors Week. Victims of gun violence, physicians, and law enforcement organizations including the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association, and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association testified in support of the bills. 

The committee approved HF 14, a bill authored by Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL – Saint Paul) to require criminal background checks on all gun sales in Minnesota. The legislation would close loopholes allowing dangerous felons and other prohibited individuals to purchase guns from unlicensed sellers. The Minnesota House passed the same policy in 2020.

“House DFLers are committed to action to address our nation's epidemic of senseless gun violence,” said Rep. Pinto. “We can and must do more to help keep guns out of the hands of people who have shown themselves to be dangerous and to make our communities safer across the state.”

The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee will consider HF 14 next.

Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL – New Hope) is the author of HF 15 to create Extreme Risk Protection Orders. The legislation would allow a family member, law enforcement officer, or city or county attorney to petition a court to temporarily remove access to guns from individuals in crisis who may be in danger of harming themselves or others. The Minnesota House passed the same bill in 2020.

"The reality is, gun violence is an American problem," said Cedrick Frazier. "Gun safety should not be a divisive matter. Protecting our families from violence and harm should not be divisive. As a country and state, we need to implement preventative measures to ensure we keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We can't advance our country forward if we continue to lose innocent lives to senseless gun violence."

HF 15 will also be considered next by the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.

The committee also advanced HF 396, a measure authored by Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL – Roseville) to require firearms and ammunition to be stored securely, an important step to prevent access by children. 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 unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition as experts recommend.

“One of the cornerstones of being a responsible gun owner is the safe storage of your firearms and ammunition, unfortunately many don’t take this aspect of gun ownership seriously enough,” 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.” 

HF 396 will now travel to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Finally, the committee approved HF 601, authored by Rep. Kaohly Her (DFL – Saint Paul), a bill requiring 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.

“Nearly 40% of guns lost or stolen in the US are never reported to law enforcement,” said Rep. Her. “This bill implements a simple requirement for gun owners to report their missing firearms within 48 hours. Not only does this keep communities across Minnesota safer, but it also deters gun trafficking, and helps law enforcement return stolen firearms to their rightful owners.”

The Ways and Means Committee will act on HF 601 next. Video of the hearing is available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube page.