How proposed gun safety bills in Minnesota would impact residents in Cook and Lake counties
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How proposed gun safety bills in Minnesota would impact residents in Cook and Lake counties

Gun safety bills are advancing at the Minnesota Legislature, backed by Democrats who are hoping their new control of both chambers will help them pass proposals that Republicans were able to block in recent years.

The two main bills would expand background check requirements for firearm sales and other transfers, and allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people in crisis under what are commonly known as red flag laws or extreme risk protection orders, the Associated Press reports. They’re moving ahead as the national debate over preventing gun violence becomes increasingly polarized.

The former Minnesota Senate GOP majority prevented much discussion of the proposals in their body over the last several years. But Democrats gained a one-seat Senate majority in the November elections to win the trifecta — control of both chambers and the governor’s office — for the first time in eight years. That’s given gun safety advocates hope while putting Second Amendment activists on the defensive.

While police, mental health groups and Gov. Tim Walz support both bills, the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, the National Rifle Association and Republican lawmakers are trying to fight them off.

“This is a great one-two punch to dismantle our Second Amendment,” said Republican Rep. Brian Johnson, of Cambridge, a former Isanti County deputy.

Walker Orenstein reports on the state Legislature for MinnPost, with a particular focus on covering issues affecting rural Minnesota. Click here to read some of his recent reporting on the gun control legislation being discussed during the 2023 legislative session. In his recent reporting on this story, Orenstein indicates that Sen. Grant Hauschild could be a pivotal vote when it comes to gun safety legislation. Hauschild represents District 3 in the state senate, including all of Cook County.

Orenstein reports that Hauschild told MinnPost on the campaign trail last year that he’s “not somebody that is favorable towards major gun control issues” and would want to learn more about the specifics of any red flag proposal. In response to a MinnPost request for comment, Hauschild provided a written statement that did not say whether he would support the red flag legislation.

“I grew up cherishing hunting with my family. My grandfather was adamant about teaching me gun safety, so I know how important it is. Many people in the northland grew up the same way and we all want to find common sense ways to reduce gun violence. I’m taking time to meet with law enforcement, stakeholders, and constituents in my district to hear their concerns and determine how we move forward. Pressure on me from outside groups on either side will not determine my position, thoughtful conversations with my constituents will,” Hauschild told MinnPost.

Orenstein spoke recently with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs about the proposed legislation and other news from the ongoing session from the Capitol in St. Paul. Audio below.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.