Minn. lawmakers ready for 'passionate' gun control debate

7:31 PM, Feb 4, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For the better part of the next three days, state lawmakers will begin a lively discussion about gun control.

The House Public Safety Committee will meet morning and night, trying to craft an omnibus bill that addresses a number of concerns brought up by Representatives.

They'll meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in hearing room 10 of the State Office Building. They'll also meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.

The thought process behind the schedule is to hold enough hearings so everyday Minnesotans can weigh in on the issues. Check the committee's website if there's a particular bill or issue that you'd like to speak on or hear about; members will only be taking up certain bills during certain meetings.

"Minnesotans are looking for common sense gun control," DFL Representative Michael Paymar of St. Paul, the chair of the committee, told KARE 11.

He's introduced a bill on universal background checks and his party colleagues have put in measures regarding assault weapons and banning high capacity magazines.

"Do you need an assault rifle to protect yourself or to go hunting? Do you need a magazine that can fire 100 rounds in a minute to go hunting or to protect yourself? I think most people would say 'No,'" Rep. Paymar explained.

Across the aisle, Republican Representative Tony Cornish of Good Thunder is getting ready for the busy three days of hearings. He's also on the committee.

"When you talk about banning and registration, we get our hackles up," Representative Cornish said, before explaining that he's getting 500 emails or calls a day about the issue.

"People really feel threatened on their gun owner's rights for the first time in a long time. You hear talk about it here and there, but this is an actual attempt and it's so far reaching it's unbelievable," Cornish said.

At Frontiersman in St. Louis Park, gun store owner Kory Krause keeps tabs on the bills introduced. He says he'd love to testify and take in the hearings.

"But I'm just so up to my neck here. I'm so behind," he admitted.

He was trying to fill orders and process paperwork as folks looked to purchase guns before any legislation could possibly change.

Krause glanced down at the bills to be introduced before sighing.

"This is, I mean, this is just off the charts. This bans so many classes of guns. My thinking is they wanted to go all out so that it would be the start of a negotiation," the store owner said.

"It could be like an auctioneer throwing out $1,000 bid on a cheap guitar and hoping you end up with 10 bucks," Rep. Cornish said.

"There's a big agenda," Chair Paymar admitted. "I sort of reject the notion of this surrender mentality that we seem to have, that we can't do anything about this issue because there's 300 million guns in this country."

Fellow DFLer Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, who has introduced a plan for people suffering from mental illness to voluntarily surrender weapons, expects a big crowd to gather on both sides of the overall debate.

"I think in the end there's probably a lot of legislation that people could agree with in the middle if we can get the passions calmed a little bit," he said.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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