On Wednesday, the House Public Safety committee heard two bills that have serious ramifications on the Second Amendment rights of thousands of law-abiding citizens across our state. Both bills, seek to address the problem of gun violence. However, instead of addressing the root cultural and social problems that drive individuals to violence, the bills instead create unnecessary barriers for individuals looking to exercise their constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
The first bill, House File 8, would dramatically expand requirements and limits on the transfer, or sale, of firearms.
This legislation would create more bureaucratic hurdles for law-abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment Rights, making it more difficult for family members to pass down a shotgun or for hunters to exchange rifles with one another for a weekend of hunting.
More specifically, the bill would raise the age to buy a firearm to 21 and require you to complete any private gun sales or transfers at a Federal Firearm Licensed dealer (FFL). If you can’t make it to an FFL, you’re required to keep government mandated paperwork on file, in perpetuity, and produce it upon request to law enforcement. If you lose the form, you could find yourself in prison for a gross misdemeanor.
The DFL argues that expanding background checks to include private transactions between friends and family members will prevent gun violence. However, facts don’t seem to support that claim. In fact, a study conducted in the 10 years following passage of a similar law in California found that expanded background checks on private sales had no impact on homicide or suicide rates.
Further, only 0.8% of criminals acquire firearms through gun shows according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice. Instead, the vast majority of criminals acquire firearms through already illegal means.
Simply put, this bill will only create strict new hurdles and barriers for law-abiding Minnesotans and will do little to stop criminals who already don’t follow the law and have no incentive to follow this new complex process.
An excellent resource on gun violence is “More Guns, Less Crime” a book by John Lott. This book demonstrates that violent crime rates go down when states pass "shall issue" concealed carry laws. He presents the results of his statistical analysis of crime data for every county in the United States during 29 years from 1977 to 2005. The book examines city, county and state level data from the entire United States and measures the impact of 13 different types of gun control laws on crime rates.
The second bill, House File 9, establishes an “extreme risk protection order” process giving someone the ability to petition a court of law to have your firearms seized by law enforcement if they believe you are a risk to yourself or to others.
The hearing can take place “ex-parte” meaning that the accused would not be present at the hearing to defend themselves from the accusations being leveled against them.
Put more simply, this bill allows the government to obtain a court order to seize your firearms in a hearing for which you will not be notified or have a chance to mount a defense. You’d then have to expend significant legal resources in order to re-obtain your constitutional and civil right to keep and bear arms.
The DFL claims that this bill will keep us safe by removing guns from dangerous individuals. However, the bill makes a mockery of due-process and the presumption of innocence. It should go without saying, but law enforcement needs a warrant to seize someone’s personal property—especially property that is protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
We already have laws in Minnesota for situations where people feel they or someone they know is in imminent danger. Those going through a mental health crisis can be placed on a 72-hour hold. In cases of domestic violence, Minnesota statute currently directs officers to make an arrest if they believe that domestic violence has occurred or if the person poses a threat to the alleged victim.
At the end of the day, this bill violates due process and will not stop those that are intent on doing harm to others.
Please be sure to take time and let me know your thoughts on these bills. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4229 or via email at email@example.com.
Thanks and have a good weekend,