The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February tragically killed 17 people and was highly publicized, receiving worldwide media coverage. Gun control is a long-standing debate in the US, and the shooting added fuel to an already-raging fire.
In fact, media outlets describe the shooting and resulting March for Our Lives protests as a tipping-point for gun control legislation. Multiple bills have been introduced federally, and many state legislatures are also considering gun control bills.
Minnesota is considering a number of different gun control bills that would restrict gun ownership and sales, leaving Minnesotans wondering what effects the bills will have, and moreover whether they will pass. Because weapons crimes are taken very seriously in Minnesota, it’s well worth paying attention.
Here are some of the possible changes that could be coming.
Bill SF 2959 would expand the types of weapons that are considered to be assault weapons. The bill expands the list of assault weapons to include not only semi-automatic, military style assault weapons, but also to cover many semi-automatic pistols or rifles with detachable or high-capacity magazines, as well as many semi-automatic shotguns.
Under the bill, it would be a felony to possess these weapons, with exception of weapons that were legally registered prior to February 2018. However, owners of grandfathered assault weapons would be required to undergo a background check, renew registration annually, and use them only on their own property or at a shooting range. The bill would also not allow these weapons to be sold or transferred – they could only be surrendered to law enforcement for destruction.
Ban of Private Gun Sales
If passed, pending legislation would also ban private gun sales, or the transfer of firearms between family members or through inheritance. Under this law, all sales and transfers would only be able to go through licensed firearms dealers, and would have a two-day waiting period. Records of all gun transfers would be filed with the county.
Bill HF 3022 would, among other things, require that all ammunition be purchased from a licensed firearms dealer. Moreover, dealers would be required to keep records of all ammunition sales for at least three years.
Gun Violence Protective Order
Bill HF 1605 would allow law enforcement officers and family members to petition a court to prohibit a specific individual from possessing guns if they pose a significant danger to themselves or others. This is known as a gun violence protective order, and is highly controversial due to the potential for abuse.
Funding Gun Violence Research
Interestingly, the largest physicians’ organization in Minnesota is calling for legislation to prevent gun violence, citing it as a public health issue. The Minnesota Medical Association has issued a statement calling for renewing and strengthening the assault weapons ban, and for funding public health research on gun violence.
The Most Important Question: Will They Pass?
These and other gun control bills have many Minnesota gun owners, who consider their guns vitally important for self-defense, questioning what’s next. However, it is important to remember that gun control legislation is frequently proposed in our state… and usually fails.
Although current trends in the gun control debate may lend some extra momentum to new legislation, these bills face an uphill battle at the capitol. Minnesota is a red state, and the GOP has historically opposed gun control legislation. Thus far, only two of the 26 gun bills have gotten a hearing, and both were voted down.
If you’re worried about running afoul of weapons laws or in the midst of dealing with a weapon-related charge right now, you would be better served by taking a look at current statutes rather than worrying about what might happen in the future. Give us a call if you need help.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).