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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL)

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Minnesota House expected to approve gun violence prevention legislation

Thursday, February 27, 2020

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — This evening, the Minnesota House of Representatives will approve legislation that would expand criminal background checks on all gun sales and establish extreme risk protection orders. Passing gun violence prevention legislation is a top priority for House DFLers. Despite overwhelming support among Minnesotans and bipartisan support in other states, Senate Republicans have so far refused to take action to prevent senseless gun violence.

“Minnesotans have been loud and clear that they want the legislature to take action to address senseless gun violence,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “The DFL-led House has responded to this call to action. Despite overwhelming public support for these proposals, Senate Republicans have blocked them at every opportunity. Senate Republicans should listen to Minnesotans and join us in supporting and passing these measures so we can enact them into law. These measures are making a difference where they've been enacted — including in Republican-led states.”

Criminal background checks and extreme risk protection orders would help keep guns out of the hands of people who have proven themselves to be dangerous. These common-sense measures are working well in other states, and are supported by law enforcement, health professionals, and the vast majority of Minnesotans.

“These are reasonable, common-sense gun safety measures that we can work on to make our families, communities, and Minnesota safer,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “Instead of working to make Minnesota safer, Senate Republicans have actually talked about weakening our gun safety laws. It’s long past time for Republicans to join us and get this done.”

Minnesota’s current background check system has loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to obtain guns through online dealers and gun shows. Expanding criminal background checks would help ensure that people who are ineligible from owning or possessing a firearm aren’t able to do so. Criminal background checks would be required on all gun sales, with common-sense exceptions such as person-to-person transfers between family members and transfers that occur while hunting, at the range, or during a competition. 

Criminal background checks on all gun sales are already required in 21 states and the District of Columbia. States that have taken this approach have experienced lower homicide rates, lower firearm suicide rates, and less firearm trafficking.

“Minnesotans deserve to be safe at school, at work, and in other public spaces,” said Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL - St. Paul), chief author of the criminal background check legislation. “Criminal background checks will help make our communities safer by keeping guns out of the hands of people who have shown themselves to be dangerous.” 

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPO) would help keep guns out of the hands of people who’ve proven to be dangerous to themselves or others. This tool allows law enforcement to temporarily restrict access to firearms if a court of law determines that an individual poses a significant danger. ERPO laws have reduced firearm suicides, homicides, and mass shootings in other states, and they are currently in use in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

“Extreme risk protection orders are a proven, evidence-based tool that can save lives,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), chief author of House File 9. “Minnesota families deserve a mechanism to work with our law enforcement officers to prevent tragedies when they see clear warning signs.” 

Stephen Venable, Hailey Dickinson, and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi spoke in support of these gun violence prevention measures at a press conference this afternoon.

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