Senate Democrats call for tighter gun restrictions

Two students hold protest signs
Students protested in Minneapolis against gun violence on May 31.
Elizabeth Shockman | MPR News

Updated 6:06 p.m.

Democrats in the Minnesota Senate say they want gun control legislation included in a broader public safety bill during a potential special session. 

Democrats lack the votes to pass such legislation and majority Senate Republicans have resisted similar efforts in the past.

Public safety was one of the spending bills left unresolved last month when the regular session ended. Gun-related proposals were not part of previous versions of the bill. But Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen, DFL-Edina, said lawmakers must respond to the grief caused by recent incidents of gun violence in Texas, New York and other states.

“DFLers are committed to responding to that grief with action to prevent future tragedies, and we’re calling on our colleagues on the Republican side to help us by agreeing to finish the public safety bill and adding common sense gun prevention, gun safety legislation to it,” López Franzen said.

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Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis said she’s preparing legislation to change the legal age from 18 to 21 for purchasing semi-automatic military-style assault weapons. Dziedzic said the proposal is a reasonable step to help address gun violence.

“We know Minnesota is a hunting and fishing state,” Dziedzic said. “So, the bill will still allow kids to enjoy hunting. We’re not going to change that. We will just end their ability to purchase these military-style weapons, these weapons that were designed for war, that were designed to kill.”

Senate Democrats are also proposing a law to set up a system of extreme risk protection orders, referred to as red flag laws and expanded background checks for gun purchases. 

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, who chairs the Senate public safety committee, said the DFL proposals will do little to impact the rise in violent crime in Minnesota and questioned why Democrats didn’t pass the measures when they controlled the Senate.

Limmer said “liberal prosecutors” aren’t putting those who use guns to commit crimes in prison for long enough and that Democrats don’t support police officers.

“In the last few weeks [the Senate] passed significant funding to recruit and retain law enforcement, demanded accountability from judges and attorneys, and proposed cracking down on repeat violent criminals,” Limmer said in a statement.

“House Democrats in Conference Committee were opposed to these proposals. I find it hard to take their proposals today seriously when they won’t agree to these common sense ideas that will actually protect our citizens from the threat posed by violent criminals today.” 

Editors note: A previous version of this story misstated one of the DFL proposals.