Minn. gun bill up for committee vote

Michael Paymar
Rep. Michael Paymar, D-St. Paul, testifies before his own public safety committee at the State Capitol as he took questions about his bill which would require universal background checks for gun buyers Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP Photo/Jim Mone

A House proposal to extend background checks to nearly all state gun sales may face a close committee vote Tuesday.

DFL Rep. Michael Paymar's bill would close a loophole that allows private sales of handguns and semi-automatic military style assault rifles without criminal background checks. However, the bill allows exemptions for sales and transfers between family members.

Republican Rep. Tony Cornish said extending background checks will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and will infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Cornish said he supports a different bill that tries to improve the background check system instead of extending background checks to private sales.

Paymar said he's considering adding some of the provisions from that bill, sponsored by Rep. Debra Hilstrom.

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"They seem fine to me," Paymar said. "It's just a matter of getting through bill deadline in time on Friday — so if it has to go to another committee or not. I'm fine with about 80 percent of her bill."

However, Cornish said he still won't vote for a bill that extends background checks.

"There's no way they're going to dress up this pig enough for the GOP members and the two DFL to accept it," Cornish said. "That's what I predicted from the start. When the media asked me, I said they're going to throw everything out there. They're going to come back and water it way down. Because they're desperate to get something passed."

Gov. Mark Dayton said he supports extending background checks to private gun sales.