Gun hearings scheduled for next week

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Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, an advocate for gun control, speaks with gun rights supporter Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, on the House floor. (Tom Scheck/MPR News)

The chair of the House Public Safety Finance Committee says he intends to hold three days of hearings next week on gun legislation.

Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, says the hearings will focus on a variety of gun related issues including universal background checks, restrictions on high capacity ammunition magazine, whether assault-style weapons should be banned, and whether teachers should be allowed to carry guns in school. He says he doesn’t intend to move the bill out of committee next week but said his goal is to put together a broad gun control bill in the coming months.

“I’m not naïve about this place and I realize that there is a lot of pressure from both sides of the issue. I want to get something passed this legislature. I think we will look at the most common sense initiatives that are being proposed and go forward,” said Paymar.

One bill that was introduced this week would allow people with mental health conditions to voluntarily put themselves on a list of people who can’t buy guns or receive a permit to carry a handgun.

“The idea is that if you’re getting treatment and you’re healthy, you may want to prevent yourself from a time when you’re not healthy,” said Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley.

Winkler said his bill would also allow individuals or their family members to voluntarily submit their weapons to the local police department.

Gun control legislation has received new attention in light of mass shootings in Connecticut and Colorado, but there’s no certainty that any gun restrictions will become law.