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Minnesota Legislature

Access to firearms data

Published (2/20/2009)
By Mike Cook
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Current statute gives law enforcement agencies and prosecutors access to a database of people authorized to carry a pistol or who have applied for a permit. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls), HF497 would extend that access to probation and parole officers.

“It’s pretty obvious if you have to go into somebody’s home, because it’s your duty as a probation officer, you want to have access to that information,” he said.

Approved Feb. 18 by the House Civil Justice Committee, the bill was sent to the House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee. It has no Senate companion.

Calvin Saari, legislative liaison for the Minnesota Corrections Association, said the bill is not only about officer safety, but it’s also about pre-sentence investigations.

“The Citizens Personal Protection Act requires the revocation of gun permits for people convicted of certain crimes,” he said. “It would be imperative that we be able to have access to that material so it could be contained in a part of the pre-sentence investigation, and the judge became aware of that and make sure it is in the sentencing minutes as such.”

Saari said probationers have reported that “it is very, very common” for convicted felons not to reveal they have a permit. “These people aren’t going to admit it on their own,” he said. “This access could be addressed by the court, and it would be clear in their conditions of supervision that they aren’t eligible to hold a permit.”

Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) expressed concern about possible data privacy issues, and expressed a willingness to work with Mullery to fine tune the bill’s wording to clarify that, among other things, probation and parole officers can only access information about people assigned to them.

A similar bill was passed last year by the House, but did not survive the conference committee process.

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