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Minnesota Legislature

Gun law expansion goes to governor

Published (3/2/2012)
By Mike Cook
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Rep. Tony Cornish explains a Senate amendment to HF1467, a bill that would, in part, change state law governing the use of force in self defense. The House repassed the bill 85-47 Feb. 29. (Photo by Paul Battaglia)At what point should a person be permitted to use lethal force in self defense or to protect their properties?

That is the primary question in a gun debate that ended with the House repassing HF1467 85-47 Feb. 29.

The House passed the bill 79-50 last session, but it was amended before being passed 40-23 by the Senate Feb. 23. It now awaits action by Gov. Mark Dayton, who has threatened to veto the bill, but met with Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) Tuesday to discuss the proposal. Cornish and Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R-Vergas) are the bill sponsors.

The bill would, in part, change state law governing the use of force in self defense, including that an individual using deadly force is presumed to possess a reasonable belief that there exists an imminent threat of substantial or great bodily harm or death. As amended by the Senate, gun owners are not entitled to the presumption if the person fired on is believed to be a law enforcement officer.

Proponents say the bill better lets law-abiding citizens defend their property and stand their ground. Opponents argue that the bill would essentially allow a person to shoot first and ask questions later.

“I think this bill is wrong; I think it’s reckless; I think we should renounce it; I think we should reject it,” said Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-St. Paul), who noted that most law enforcement leaders have spoken against the bill, and noted that people already have the right to use deadly force in some cases.

Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Mpls) cited three unintentional shootings in Minneapolis as evidence the bill could produce more, such as those that could kill or injure children.

“Zero of the stories you heard on the floor have anything to do with the Castle Doctrine and its application,” Cornish responded.

The bill also defines and delimits the authority of peace officers to disarm law abiding individuals during a state of disaster declared by the governor, and requires Minnesota to recognize a permit-to-carry issued by any other state, provided that the permit holder conforms to Minnesota’s pistol carry laws while carrying a pistol within Minnesota.

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