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Major victory for gun control advocates at state capitol

Updated: May 24, 2023

A proponent for gun control measures holds a sign saying "Not One More," referencing children killed in mass shootings. (Elijah Todd-Walden/BLCK Press)

Advocates for gun control and safety are celebrating the codification of two measures that they say limits the harm firearms can do to Minnesota communities.

Minnesota joined 20 other states in passing red flag laws, which will allow loved ones and law enforcement to remove firearms from individuals they deem to be a threat to themselves or others.

It also mandates that all firearms sales require a background check, even if those sales are between private individuals.

Republican legislators opposed the provisions, saying they are another form of government overreach and infringe on Minnesotans’ second amendment rights. The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus also opposed the provisions, and unsuccessfully pressured Democrats from rural areas to vote against including them in the omnibus package.

“These gun control measures violate the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, and are being forced into a budget bill to avoid an up or down vote because Democrats know these bills have bipartisan opposition and would not pass,” House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth (R) said.

The legislature had the opportunity to pass similar laws in 2013, but the bill never got a vote in the House. Polls from KSTP and the Star Tribune showed that universal background checks were popular at the time. Another poll taken by Protect Minnesota showed that 85% of Minnesotans supported universal background checks in 2016.

The new regulations are part of a larger public finance and safety omnibus bill, which includes:

  • Establishing the Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women. This is the first agency dedicated to addressing systematic violence faced by Black women and girls.

  • Expanding tenant’s rights in the state, including barring a landlord from renting out a unit due to a pet owner’s refusal to declaw or devocalize their animal and penalizing landlords who do not disclose non-optional fees before a tenant signs a lease.

  • Enacting the Clean Slate Act, which automatically expunged criminal records for some crimes that are already qualified for expungement under the current petition process.

  • Increasing funding for judges, law clerks and public defenders and gives raises for Civil Legal Services lawyers, who represent low-income clients in civil cases.

  • Prevents law enforcement officers from joining or supporting hate and extremist groups.

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