Police set sights against gun bill

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, May 12, 2011

ST. PAUL — Police and prosecutors stepped up their opposition Thursday to a bill moving through the Legislature that would expand Minnesotans’ rights to use deadly force to defend themselves if they feel they are in imminent danger.

DFL state Sen. John Harrington, who is former police chief of St. Paul, said the bill “will increase danger to the public and increase danger to the police.”

Flanked by police chiefs, prosecutors and fellow DFL legislators, Harrington also called the bill “a broadly misguided piece of legislation that should be pulled.”

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Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said that Minnesota’s existing laws governing self-defense adequately protect the state’s law-abiding citizens.

Opponents contend the bill will put police officers at an increased risk of being shot by gun owners who believe their safety is threatened. The bill would allow gun owners to shoot intruders who broke into their home, campsite or wherever they are residing at the moment.

Supporters call it the “Stand Your Ground” law, while opponents refer to it as a “Shoot First” law.

Andrew Rothman of the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance said opponents are engaging in “hysteria and fear-mongering,” the Star Tribune reported.

The bill already has been approved by committees in the House and Senate. Gov. Mark Dayton has said he opposes the bill but has stopped short of threatening a veto.