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.”
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.