Major Minnesota gun control legislation nearing Capitol finish line

Minnesota Democrats are on the verge of getting major gun control legislation passed into law. A red flag law and universal background checks on gun sales passed through the conference committee last Wednesday night.

Gun control has been a priority for top Democrats at the Capitol for years, and they now believe they’ve done it just right to keep their side unified and get it through to the governor.

As the clock passed 10 p.m. on Wednesday, a DFL-led committee approved a massive bill, including significant new regulations on guns.

"This is a transformative milestone that we are going to be bringing to our respective bodies for passage," said St. Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park.

Inside the judiciary and public safety finance bill is a red flag law allowing judges to order firearms taken from people determined to be at risk of suicide or dangerous to others. Family members, roommates, or police could ask the judge to do it.

The bill also expands criminal background checks to all gun sales, including private transfers. It bans sales to people listed in criminal gang data and anyone who’s not allowed to own a firearm under state or federal law.

RELATED: Gov. Walz vows action on gun control during State of the State

Hermantown’s Grant Hauschild, who’s often seen as the swing voter in a 34-33 DFL Senate advantage, tells us the bill has his support. Speaker Melissa Hartman anticipates no problems in the House.

"Finally with a DFL-led senate we’ll be able to get some common sense gun violence prevention measures to the governor’s desk and signed into law," said the Democrat from Brooklyn Park.

Some Republicans complained that they didn’t have a voice in the conference committee.

Leadership criticized the final version of the bill for excluding funding for mental health and wellness grants for first responders, for extra school safety staffing, and for law enforcement body cameras.

But DFL State Senator Judy Seeberger helped the committee fine tune the red flag laws to protect the rights of most legal gun owners. She cited the recent shooting deaths of law enforcement as one reason for her support and added the bill will make Minnesota safer. 

"What we’re doing right now is not working across the nation," said the Afton Democrat. "If this bill saves one life, it’s worth it."

Floor votes for the omnibus bill are not scheduled yet, but Sen. Seeberger is already teasing an even bigger piece of legislation to address gun violence in future sessions.