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Public safety panel wraps up work by approving ‘Red Flag’ gun-control bill

Denouement.

It’s a French word meaning “winding down,” which describes how a House panel took only 30 minutes on Thursday to conclude its unfinished business on the second of two gun-control bills discussed for five hours on the previous evening.

The House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division approved HF9, as amended, on a 10-7, party-line vote. The bill now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Sponsored by Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), the bill would create a procedure to petition for an “extreme risk protection order” that would remove firearms from people deemed at risk of harming themselves or others.

The so-called “Red Flag” bill specifies that family or household members, certain law enforcement officers, a city or county attorney, or a guardian can make such a petition.

The so-called “uniform criminal background check” bill, which would require the state to conduct background checks for most private firearm transfers was approved Wednesday evening and sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul) is the sponsor of HF8, which has no Senate companion.

Thursday’s closing arguments

Rep. Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) said the bill would violate Second Amendment rights and deny due process to the person whose firearms are taken away.

“This bill does nothing to help the person in crisis,” said Johnson.

He also noted that the bill would put a significant burden on local law-enforcement agencies to collect and store firearms and would expose them to legal liability if the firearms are damaged.

Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) said objections to the lack of due process in the bill are overstated. He noted that the processes to remove firearms from people deemed at risk of harming themselves or others are comparable to other statutory rules guiding confiscations of property.

The Senate situation

Both bills face an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) has repeatedly spoken against gun-control proposals.

The companion “Red Flag” bill is SF436. Sponsored by Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), it awaits action by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

 


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