Gun bills running the gamut from universal background checks to “permitless carry” are up for discussion, but no votes, at a state Senate field hearing in Hibbing this afternoon. Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says such hearings are usually in the Twin Cities and “I wanted it up in outstate Minnesota where people in outstate can have more of a voice in some of the bills that they’re hearing.” Joan Peterson with Protect Minnesota in Duluth responds she’s attended State Capitol hearings for many years and “there have always been as many people for the gun rights group as there are for gun safety groups, and so I don’t believe that that should be a factor because it’s really not true.” Peterson says gun safety advocates will be well-represented in Hibbing.
Senate Majority Leader Gazelka acknowledges universal background checks and a “red flag” law aren’t going anywhere in the 2020 session. He says they’ll try to find areas where both sides agree, for example, “If a felon is caught with a gun, there needs to be stricter penalties. Right now it is illegal, and if a felon has a gun that means they’re likely gonna use that gun.” Peterson responds Republicans’ opposition to universal background checks and other common-sense measures is “like chickens running from the obvious. Why they won’t go ahead and pass it is beyond me.” Peterson says other states that have passed such laws have seen good results.