Minnesota lawmakers debate permitless carry, 'Stand Your Ground' bills

- Two gun bills making their way through the Minnesota legislature are raising concerns among some in the law and law enforcement community.

One of the bills would do away with permit to carry. The other would redefine self-defense laws. Nearly every person who testified for over two hours on Wednesday about the two gun bills was against them, including the police chiefs association and the county attorneys association.

Both the committee room and the overflow room a floor above were filled to capacity with both passionate opponents and power supporters.

“Twenty-seven states have legislatively enacted stand your ground laws and in each case the [National Rifle Association] has been there to support each measure,” Scott Rausch, a lobbyist with the NRA, said.

The NRA's lobbyist was in Iowa yesterday supporting these same two measures, as they have across the country.

The Stand Your Ground bill, also known as the castle doctrine, loosens laws for self-defense. The other bill allows guns to be carried without a permit and prohibits nearly any public place from banning them.

“These places include schools, churches and other places of worship, hospitals, colleges [and] even the state fairgrounds,” Reverend Rolf Olson, an opponent of the bill, said.

Rev. Olson, a gun owner himself, said he lost his daughter in what is known as the Craigslist murder in 2009.

“If this bill passes, people who've never passed a criminal background check and never learned how to handle a gun safely would be able to carry one in public,” Olson said.

There is a lot of powerful support for both bills and a lot of powerful opposition too.

“Do we really want to encourage a driver who believes he's being threatened with substantial harm in a road rage incident to shoot and kill the other driver rather than calling 911 or simply driving away? I think not,” said James Backstrom, a Dakota County attorney.

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