Bills to bar domestic abusers from keeping guns gain support
By Brandt Williams
St. Paul— Gun control bills typically don’t gain traction in election years, but a couple of proposals are moving through the Legislature this session. Unlike the sweeping proposals that failed last year, the bills this session are more modest and have bipartisan support.
Members of Protect Minnesota and other gun control advocacy groups rallied at the state Capitol Friday to support a bill that, among other things, would allow courts to bar people under domestic violence restraining orders from having guns.
Bills sponsored by Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park and Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, would allow judges to order gun owners subject to such orders to surrender their guns to law enforcement, a licensed gun dealer or an eligible third party.
Heather Martens, president of Protect Minnesota, said there is a wide consensus that the measure is needed.
“It’s something that everyone seems to agree on — that domestic abusers should not have firearms,” she said.
Gun rights advocates initially opposed the bill. They worried gun owners accused of domestic abuse would not get a chance to defend themselves in court before they had to surrender their firearms. State Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said proponents of the bill heard his concerns and made changes that satisfied his objections.
“You don’t want to vote against a bill like this and make it look like you support abuse,” said Cornish, a retired police officer. “But what you want to do is make sure it’s targeted at the individuals and that’s exactly what we did. And we gave them due process to get their guns back.”
Minneapolis police officers will remove weapons from a residence at the request of an abuse victim.