EXPLAINER: Universal gun background checks bill introduced in Minnesota

In a room full of police chiefs, prosecutors and families affected by gun violence, two Minnesota lawmakers say they intend to sponsor a bill requiring universal background checks on all firearms purchases. Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) and Rep. Danny Schoen (DFL-Cottage Grove) claim in the 18 states that have such a law, crime rates have dropped.

“46 percent fewer women are killed by partners, 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers like myself and my coworkers are killed by handguns,” Rep. Schoen said.

But the bill faces stiff opposition. Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) said Rep. Schoen and Sen. Latz should be nicknamed the “Gun Grabbers of America” and said he won’t give the bill a hearing in the public safety committee he chairs.

“I want to assure that as long as I’m speaker this will not become law,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt said.

At a Capitol rally sponsored by the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, there was deep fear that universal background checks are nothing more than government surveillance. Opponents also believe it won’t solve all gun crimes.

“What is a universal background check, a universal registration other than the collection of metadata on the exercise of a constitutional right?” argued GOCRA president Andrew Rothman.

Katherine Olson was tragically killed in 2007 in what Minnesotans know as the Craigslist murder. Her father, a pastor, says such a law would not have prevented her death.

“I agree with them it won’t solve all the situations, but it may solve many,” said Rolf Olson.

The law

“Each transfer of a firearm occurring in whole or in part in the state shall be preceded by a background check on the transferee and no transferor shall transfer a firearm, and no transferee shall receive a firearm, unless the transferee first complies with this section.”

The penalty

The sale or transfer of a gun without a background check is a gross misdemeanor on the first offense. Breaking the law a second time would be a felony that carries a sentence of up to 2 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.


There are certain scenarios outlined in the bill in which a criminal background check would not be required for a firearms transfer.

Transfers of antique firearms “as curiosities or for their historical significance or value.”

Transfers to or between federally licensed firearms dealers.

Transfers by order of court.

Involuntary transfers.

Transfers at death.

A loan of one day or less.

Repair, reconditioning or remodeling.

A loan by a teacher to a student in a course designed to teach marksmanship or safety with a pistol, approved by the commissioner of natural resources.

A loan at a firearms collectors exhibition.

A loan between legal hunters or target shooters if the loan is intended for a period of no more than 12 hours.

A loan between law enforcement officers who have the power to make arrests.

A loan between employees or between the employer and an employee in a business (if the employee is required to carry a pistol or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon by reason of employment, and is the holder of a valid permit to carry a pistol.)

Read a copy of SF 2493 at http://bit.ly/1nA17Wx.

Statement of support from Rep. Gabby Giffords and Capt. Mark Kelly

“Just two weeks ago, we joined with Minnesota’s leaders to launch the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense and call on leaders in the legislature to take some commonsense steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands and protect the rights of law-abiding Minnesotans. This new proposal does just that. Minnesota’s leaders now have the opportunity to close the reckless loopholes in the state’s laws that let guns fall into the wrong hands. We hope they seize that chance. We applaud Sen. Ron Latz and Rep. Dan Schoen for their leadership in introducing this commonsense, responsible bill. Responsible gun owners agree that commonsense changes in our laws can help keep guns away from the wrong people, and make our communities safer. As they debate this important legislation, we urge Minnesota’s leaders to keep in mind the broad and strong support among their constituents, including from gun owners, for laws like this one. We hope they do the responsible thing and advance this commonsense proposal.”

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