Several bills calling for changes in gun laws will be considered by the Minnesota Legislature this year.
From changes in the background check process of gun purchases to restrictions on the types of guns and ammunition available, several proposals are already being discussed.
The House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee was scheduled to hear testimony on gun-related bills for three days this week, and the Senate is expected to hold hearings on gun proposals during the week of Feb. 18.
The Sun Current asked Bloomington’s legislators, “What are your priorities regarding gun control proposals?”
Responses from four of Bloomington’s five house and senate members are as follows:
Ann Lenczewski, House District 50B (D-Bloomington): Due to recent tragedies in our state and nation, many Bloomington residents have contacted me with their ideas about how to keep our children and everyone in our community safe.
I anticipate that a broad discussion of both gun use measures and increased mental health services will receive a good deal of attention at the capitol this year.
I support both responsible gun ownership and measures to reduce gun violence. Improvements in gun background check processes, funding for psychological and psychiatric mental health services, limiting some large capacity weapons and funding training and support for law enforcement, educators and other community partners all interest me.
Our Bloomington teachers, Bloomington school staff and our Bloomington police officers are working hard to keep our students and all of us safe every day. They work in potentially dangerous situations and we need to provide them with the support and resources they need. I will be listening closely to their recommendations.
Paul Rosenthal, House District 49B (D-Edina): For the most part gun control has been a federal issue. Considering the growing debate over gun rights, I do think that the legislature may take action on some kind of gun violence measure this session.
I currently am in support gun violence bills offer by Rep. John Lesch and Sen. Ron Latz, which has been a collaborative effort on behalf of local law enforcement and the Hennepin County Attorney’s office. The bill would keep guns away from felony domestic violence offenders, repeat juvenile offenders and limit access to guns by the mentally ill. It would also make it a crime to knowingly help convicted criminals, who have been ordered not to possess a firearm, to do so.
These measures will give law enforcement practical ways to help prevent gun violence.
Linda Slocum, House District 50A, (D-Richfield): Gun violence and gun control have become hot topics because of recent tragedies in places like Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and even Richfield and Bloomington. When people cannot safely go to the movies, work or even attend elementary school, we know the status quo is not acceptable.
As a member of the House Public Safety Policy and Finance Committee I have been participating in three days of hearings (Feb. 5-7) exclusively devoted to finding common-sense ways we can reduce gun violence.
From those hearings, I hope we can produce bipartisan legislation to keep Minnesotans safe. I also am working with Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek to produce bipartisan solutions for addressing issues surrounding mental health and gun violence.
What we can do at a state level is limited. People and their cargo, guns included, cross state boundaries easily and without oversight. This means Minnesota’s gun laws are only as strong as its neighbors. Hopefully, members of Congress and President Obama will enact new measures that can make Minnesota and the rest of the United States more secure.
Melissa Halvorson Wiklund, Senate District 50 (D-Bloomington): There has been much discussion regarding gun control over the past few months, and specific proposals are now coming forward both nationally and at the state level.
I agree with our president and U.S. senators that we can both respect responsible gun ownership and at the same time believe that work should be done to ensure we do more to prevent irresponsible use of guns.
My priorities would be to work with law enforcement officials who are dealing with gun violence on a daily basis to understand where changes can make a difference and also to address concerns from both law enforcement and human services agencies who see gaps in our ability to address mental health issues.
In both of the education committees I serve on, there will be discussion about how to address school climate and safety along with how to increase our ability to address mental health concerns. I look forward to hearing from Bloomington and Richfield constituents regarding their thoughts and suggestions.
Melisa Franzen, Senate District 49 (D-Edina), did not respond.
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