State legislators have added three offenses to the list of felony crimes that would permanently bar someone from possessing guns in Minnesota.
Under a bill approved Tuesday by both houses of the Legislature, people convicted of fifth degree assault, domestic assault or domestic assault by strangulation who are later arrested with firearms can now receive the harshest prison sentences allowed under state law.
People convicted of crimes of violence are prohibited for life from legally possessing firearms in Minnesota. If caught with guns, they can be sent to prison for up to 15 years.
"I think this is an important step in trying to pass some meaningful gun control in the state of Minnesota," said state Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, who sponsored the House version of the bill.
"It passed unanimously in the House," Paymar said. "And I expect the governor will sign the bill."
For Paymar, who pushed unsuccessfully for tougher gun restrictions last year, the measure's passage represents progress.
"This year I think there was a little different environment here at the Legislature," he said. "We are trying to pass some gun control measures that have bipartisan support that were common sense."
Some gun rights advocates said they did not oppose the bill, because it would penalize offenders -- not law-abiding gun owners.
Earlier this month, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill allowing judges to order people served with domestic abuse protection orders to surrender their guns.
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