Guns at State Capitol debate heats up

6:05 PM, Nov 26, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- An advisory committee deadlocked on a complete ban on guns at the State Capitol in a hearing on Tuesday morning.

The 2-2 tie means the move to advance a proposal to ban guns failed, as did a plan that would ban guns from committee hearing rooms and the Senate and House chambers.

The amendment to ban guns was brought up by DFL Representative Michael Paymar.

"He wants to ban the good guys in hopes that he might catch a few bad guys," Joe Olson, with the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, told the committee.

"It is important to consider also that many of the other State Capitols have far better security than St. Paul does," Heather Martens with Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence countered, adding to a point that Paymar also made.

The committee did agree to recommend to the legislature that people with permits who request to carry a firearm at the Capitol notify the Department of Public Safety every five years. Right now, statues only require them to notify DPS once.

The committee also agreed to recommend increasing the number of State Troopers and non-licensed security officers on the Capitol grounds.

The all-out ban would have required the state to put security screening checkpoints at Capitol entrances to monitor visitors for weapons.

Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon and Paymar, both DFLers, voted for the plan while Republican Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen and Republican Rep. Kelby Woodard opposed it. DFL Senator Ann Rest was absent and Chief Justice Lorie Gildea abstained.

"Naturally, I'm disappointed but what I think we need to do is continue to have the conversation," Prettner Solon said.

"Where does government stop the intrusion? Again, if it's not broken we don't need to fix it. It's very simple," Ingebrigtsen concluded.

The conversation will continue, next session.

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