Gun bills stir passion at Capitol hearing

Andrew Rothman, president of  the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, held what he called a suppressor as he testified before a House Committee. Tom Scheck |MPR News

A House committee Thursday approved a bill that would allow gun owners to carry firearms in the State Capitol without first notifying state officials.

As the law stands now, people with hangun permits can bring their guns into the Capitol but only after notifying the Public Safety Commissioner.

Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, said the bill streamlines the process.

“The folks who have undergone the scrutiny and have acquired their permit to carry are willingly submitting themselves and declaring themselves to be essentially law abiding folks who just wish to carry under their Second Amendment rights,” Nash said. “This current methodology creates, for lack of a better term, a gotcha moment for them”

The bill was one of several measures being considered by the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee.

Opponents told the committee that guns should not be allowed in the state Capitol. They contend that more people with guns will make public buildings and society less safe.

“Why do you need a gun in a public building that makes laws for or against what you like?” said Bill Krause of Plymouth. “As a gun owner myself, I am disgusted, absolutely disgusted, with the NRA, the gun lobby and I’ll say the mainly extreme gun owners.”

Other bills the committee debated include one that allows the purchase and use of what gun rights supporters call suppressors and what opponents of the bill call silencers.

The committee started debating the bill but recessed before voting. Update: The committee approved the bill on a divided voice vote.

Supporters said allowing suppressors would help reduce harmful noise when people are  hunting or shooting at gun ranges.

“Like safety goggles, ear muffs and helmets, suppressors are safety tools,” said gun instructor Luke Soderling of Gilbert. “ Please restore for me and all Minnesotans the right to protect our hearing and make our ranges as safe as they can be.”

Heather Martens, with Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence, testified before the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee. Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore, looked on. Tom Scheck | MPR News

But critics of the measure said silencers could help people engaged in criminal activity.

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association issued a statement saying the devices could make it more difficult to use technology that identifies the location of gun shots.

“Silencers are not designed for hearing protection. Silencers were designed to allow people to commit murder and get away with it,” said Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence. “If there is someone that is committing a mass shooting, if they do have the benefit of a silencer, they can claim more victims before they are caught.”

The committee is scheduled to resume debate on the bill later Thusday. Also on its agenda is a bill that would allow people to buy guns from other states.

It isn’t clear whether any of the bills will become law. The DFL-controlled Senate has not held any hearings on them.

Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters today that he hasn’t read the gun legislation but doesn’t believe changes are needed in the state’s gun laws.

  • kevins

    Sadly, there are many supporters, but I believe that needing to carry a firearm in the state capitol building represents the de-civilization of our culture.

  • I’m indifferent about the capitol, I feel like it’s just sort of “tacked on” to the suppressor idea (or vice versa for that matter) But I would really like to see this state get suppressors. They already require ATF approval and a 6-9 month wait so It really shouldn’t worry anyone

  • WayneEDay

    “Silencers are not designed for hearing protection. Silencers were designed to allow people to commit murder and get away with it,” said Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota: Working to Spread Gun Hysteria.

    If, like Heather Martens, you get all your gun information from watching TV, then you might suppose a suppressor would allow you to fire a shot without anyone hearing it. Such murder doesn’t seem to be prevalent in Norway, where suppressor use is allowed without regulation at all. One would still have to purchase the BATFE tax stamp and go through the same type of paperwork as one would to get a machine gun.

  • Well, Heather Martens might want to kill someone with a silencer but I’m just trying to save my hearing and not annoy the neighbors.

    I think Heather Martens might need some serious psychological counseling.

    • Haymitch

      What’s wrong with ear muff sound protection? $30, no waiting period, no background checks, and 3M makes them so you can support local jobs!

  • WayneEDay

    Some facts, which Ms. Marten is probably not interested in.

    There are concerns by some that suppressors will be used in crimes. These concerns are unfounded, however, as suppressors, which have been legal to own by law- abiding citizens since their inception in 1902, are very rarely used in crimes. In a study looking at the criminal use of suppressors in California and nation-wide between 1995 and 2005, the researcher found 153 federal criminal cases involving suppressors, only 15 of which involved the actual use of the suppressor in the commission of a crime. Less than 0.1% of homicides in federal court, an infinitesimally low 0.00006% of felonies in California and a mere 0.1%
    of armed robberies involve a suppressor. Suppressed firearms are clearly not the choice for criminals. This is likely due to the fact that they do not silence firearms like in the movies, they are ineffective on revolvers, they prevent the proper function of most semi- automatic handguns without the addition of a special piston system and they make firearms longer and heavier, which makes them more difficult to conceal.

    But those are just facts. Protect Minnesota is working to spread hysteria, not facts.