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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Kaela Berg (DFL)

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Minnesota House passes legislation strengthening state’s firearm straw purchases law and addressing gun violence

Friday, May 3, 2024

St. Paul, Minn. - Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed H.F. 2609, legislation strengthening Minnesota’s gun laws, on a vote of 71-59. The bill, authored by Rep. Kaela Berg (DFL - Burnsville), makes straw purchases of firearms a felony and improves the effectiveness of the current law prohibiting the activity, strengthens the statutory definition of trigger activators, and requires reporting on gun trafficking and firearm seizures.

“DFLers at the legislature are taking action to address gun violence,” Rep. Berg said. “This common-sense legislation is an important step in keeping guns out of the hands of people who want to harm themselves or others, and to help protect our first responders.”

A straw purchase occurs when an individual buys a firearm for someone ineligible to purchase or possess them. H.F. 2609 updates the state’s straw purchasing law to increase the penalty from a gross misdemeanor to a felony. The bill also strengthens the law to include cases where the person making the transfer should have reasonably known the person receiving the firearm was ineligible to possess it. The current standard requires proof the person providing the weapon had prior knowledge of the recipient’s ineligibility, a high bar to reach for successful prosecution. The bill also expands the straw purchaser law to cover all firearms, not just pistols or semiautomatic military-style assault weapons as covered by current law.

Additionally, the bill clarifies the definition of illegal “trigger activators” under state law to prohibit so-called binary trigger devices that allow a semiautomatic gun to fire more than one shot with a single pull and release of a trigger. According to charging documents, one of the firearms used in the February Burnsville shooting was equipped with such a device. Last year, lawmakers increased penalties for unlawful possession or operation of machine guns, trigger activators, or machine gun conversion kits.

The legislation also requires the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to issue an annual report to the Legislature on firearms trafficking. The report requires information on actions taken by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Violent Crimes Enforcement Teams on the number of firearms seized, the number of gun trafficking investigations conducted, and a summary of the types of investigations conducted.

The bill now awaits action in the Minnesota Senate.