Assault weapons ban, magazine limit out of picture

12:42 AM, Mar 1, 2013   |    comments
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Rep. Michael Paymar with police chiefs
 PDF Document: House Gun Omnibus HF237

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota's gun control advocates will have to downsize their expectations at the State Capitol in 2013. The latest version of the House gun control bill will not include a proposed ban on military style assault rifles, or a limit on the size of ammunition magazines.

Rep. Michael Paymar, the St. Paul Democrat who heads the Public Safety Committee in the House, unveiled the catch-all measure Thursday afternoon.  It will focus on expanding the number of firearms transactions that require a background check, to ensure the buyer is not ineligible to have one.

"The majority of Minnesotans support background checks and the majority of law enforcement support background checks," Rep. Paymar said.

"And we're just hoping we can convince our colleagues in both houses to support this bill."

All sales of pistols and semi-automatic rifles would be subject to checks against the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.  Transactions between relatives would be exempt in Paymar's bill.

The omnibus bill, known as House File 237, or the Gun Violence Prevention Act, is an amalgamation of several smaller gun control measures Paymar's committee took testimony on in February.

The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Ron Latz, announced the previouis week that the Senate will not be considering the assault rifles ban this session, asserting that's an idea that should be considered at the federal level.

Paymar was joined by several area police chiefs as well as Dennis Flaherty, the director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

"Not only would it be a huge disappointment for the police community but also all of the citizens of the state, if at the end of the session this does not appear on the governor's desk for signature," Flaherty told reporters.

Members of the National Rifle Association and the Minnesota Gun Owner Rights Alliance testified against universal background checks during those hearings. They said it would create more barriers for law abiding citizens who are seeking to arm themselves for their own security.

Paymar's bill also would increase penalties for straw buyers, those who buy guns on behalf of disqualified persons.

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