ST. PAUL, Minn. - A clear majority of the Minnesota House is backing a new plan that would modestly revise the state's gun laws, while scuttling much-talked about universal background checks.
Rep. Debra Hilstrom, a Brooklyn Center Democrat, unveiled on Wednesday a bill with 73 cosponsors from both parties. Her bill would tighten the state's current background check system, add to the parameters of who cannot legally own a gun and help county attorneys crack down on illegal gun owners.
It won't impose universal background checks for gun purchases.
Hilstrom says her bill is the Legislature's best bet at passing some laws to prevent some gun violence while still respecting Minnesotans' right to own guns.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and other members of the Minnesota Sheriff's Association announced their support for Hillstrom's bill. Stanek cited the bill's call for improved and more timely data sharing as essential for keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous and mentally ill people.
"A background check is only as good as the data that is put into the system and we need complete, timely information about people who are ineligible to possess a firearm," said Sheriff Stanek during a press conference at the State Capitol. "When a court deems a person mentally ill and dangerous to oneself and others, that person should not have access to a gun."
Governor Mark Dayton tells KARE 11 it would be "concerning and disappointing" if background checks weren't in the bill.
He says background checks are common sense and one of the best ways we have to protect people.
Dayton did add that he would sign a gun bill that doesn't include background checks, but only if the rest of the bill looks good.
Advocates for tighter control say that Minnesotans overwhelmingly support expanding background checks, and that Hilstrom's bill ultimately won't have much of an impact on gun violence.
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