ST. PAUL – Gun owners in Minnesota could attach silencers to their weapons if a bill sent to the House floor Thursday becomes law.
The “suppressor” bill was the most contentious and substantive of three bills expanding gun owners’ rights that passed in a House committee and were sent to the floor on what Chairman Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, called “fun day gun day at the Capitol.”
Gun-rights advocates are making a renewed political push this session after fighting off a variety of gun-control measures in 2013 and with the backing of the new speaker of the House, Republican Kurt Daudt, who has pledged to protect Second Amendment rights.
The fun might not extend to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party-controlled Senate.
“I’d like to stay out of the gun conversation,” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Thursday. Bakk, a frequent hunter and generally a gun-rights supporter, said if similar measures come to the Senate and survive a potentially hostile committee hearing, “Then I guess we can talk about it.”
Similarly, the bills don’t appear to have much of a chance with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. “I don’t think we need changes in Minnesota gun laws,” he said Thursday.
But for the day at least, guns took center stage at the Capitol.
The crowd in the packed hearing room of the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance committee for the most part held their emotions in check, heeding Cornish’s admonition to “try not to cheer or jeer anybody.”
The “suppressor” bill is so-named because advocates said using the term “silencer,” as current law does, perpetuates the Hollywood fiction that the devices eliminate gunshot noise.
“Guns are loud,” said second-term Republican Rep. Mark Anderson of Lake Shore, the bill sponsor. “All this is going to do is just reduce the noise level of a gun, and it’s not very substantial but it’s substantial enough.”
The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association submitted a letter opposing the bill.
Also passing on voice votes in the committee Thursday were bills that would:
- Eliminate the separate step now required of permitted gun owners to notify authorities if they want to carry in the Capitol complex. The issuing of the permit itself would constitute notification.
- Allow Minnesotans to buy long guns in any state, not just contiguous states, and allow Minnesota dealers to sell to persons from any state. Advocates said this simply clarifies statute to reflect existing law.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Dave Orrick contributed to this report.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.