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Despite Dayton's Second Amendment view, Minnesota could have tougher gun laws

Gov. Mark Dayton
MinnPost photo by James Nord
Gov. Mark Dayton: “There’s a limit on what society can do to protect people from their own follies.”

The decision in the case, District of Columbia v. Heller, has been of mainly symbolic importance so far. There have been more than 500 challenges to gun laws and gun prosecutions since Heller was decided, and vanishingly few of them have succeeded.

The courts have upheld federal laws banning gun ownership by people convicted of felonies and some misdemeanors, by illegal immigrants and by drug addicts. They have upheld laws making it illegal to carry guns near schools or in post offices. They have upheld laws concerning unregistered weapons. And they have upheld laws banning machine guns and sawed-off shotguns.

Nor does Heller impose any major hurdles to many of the most common legislative proposals in the wake of the Newtown shootings … Among the responses that Heller allows, he said, are better background checks, enhanced mental health reporting and a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.

“Those are a number of steps that are doable and they are important,” he said.

Joan Peterson, a Minnesotan who sits on the Brady Campaign board of directors, said there a number of states with laws she hopes to see enacted in Minnesota. New York joins California in closing the background check loophole, and it also has a robust law compelling citizens to report lost and stolen guns. Connecticut, the site of last week’s school shooting, has a two-week waiting period for people looking to buy rifles or shotguns, the longest in the country. (Minnesota has a seven-day waiting period for hand guns and assault weapons.)

Peterson said any concerns over the legality of state gun-control laws are misguided considering what other states have implemented.

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Comments (13)

Yes, there are things we can do at a state level.

Here are a few:

1. Hold the owner of a weapon criminally liable if he or she fails to take adequate steps to safeguard the weapon and prevent its use, intentionally or otherwise, to commit a crime or cause injury or death. Make specific defenses available, e.g., the weapon was taken from a locked gun safe, was equipped with a trigger lock, or had otherwise been rendered temporarily inoperable and that measure was overcome by the user.

2. Hold the owner civilly liable for the same offense.

3. Require that every weapon sold or kept in Minnesota be equipped with a trigger lock when not in use.

4. Require that every gun owner attend an approved gun safety class.

5. Require that every gun in Minnesota be registered.

6. Ban the private sale of weapons by requiring that all sales be conducted by or through a registered dealer, for a set fee sufficient to cover the dealer's costs.

7. Ban the sale of magazines containing more than 6 to10 rounds.

8. Buy back and destroy magazines larger than 6 to 10 rounds.

9. Impose a substantial tax on the sale of weapons capable of firing more than a few rounds per second.

10. Do we have forfeiture laws for the illegal use of firearms, comparable to those for drug crimes? If not, enact them. Make the use of a weapon in a crime expensive as well as guaranteed jail time.

11. Ban the sale, possession and use of fragmentation rounds in Minnesota.

There are a multitude of options to explore. Let's get to it.

Easy

1. Define adequate in a manner that will satisfy the SCOTUS.
2. See #1
3. Kind of hinders law enforcement doesn't it? Define "in use".
4. Govt. paid for? (Discriminates otherwise)
5. Right to privacy?
6. Restricts commerce between consenting adults, will certainly lead to most everyone becoming a "gun dealer".
7. As long as there is no limit on the number of magazines, have at it.
8. The government is broke and the rich won't have any money left to pay for this program. Everyone will just get magazines from overseas, but if they're cheaper than the buyback there could be a profit to be made.
9. A "substantial tax" to shoot ducks? Good luck with that.
10. I believe that the use of a weapon in a crime does increase the penalty for the crime, but what is the real cost of a stolen gun?
11. Hope that nobody has a car or a mailbox.

Sorry, I only had two minutes...

Gun owners' resistance to change

Every time one of these exchanges takes place (a comment offers ideas for solutions and is immediately followed by a litany of reasons why they wouldn't work/are bad ideas) I am reminded of Ray Schoch's quote from the extensive (currently standing at 95) comments thread following the article on the "9 worst urban planning moves in Twin Cities history" which reads:

"Few things are more certain than death, taxes, and neighborhood opposition to virtually any project that brings change."

Change "neighborhood" to "gun owners'" and "project" to "idea" and you've pretty much nailed every one of these discussions.

Too bad we can't seem to drum up the same level of commenter's outrage (as evidenced by comment count) over the gun issue as is apparently stirred up by disagreement over urban planning decisions.

Agreed

Look at the LRT projects, the Minnetonka care facility expansion, same-sex marriage, stadium projects, medical device taxes, etc. There always seems to be opposition.

Not quite the same

How much human slaughter is associated with the items on your list?

Sort of casts the need for solutions in a slightly more urgent light when it comes to the easy availability of any kind of guns and gun owners' resistance to anything that affects that easy availability . . . . .

Question.

Do you believe the state should have a monopoly on armed violence?

Back it up a few steps

If you go back to the beginning of this discussion thread, you'll find James Hamilton offering a number of ideas for things that might be put into place to help mitigate the effects of disasters such as the Sandy Hook school shooting. These were not "all or nothing" ideas. James was not saying "Let's take away everyone's guns", but rather, "Let's think about ways to more reasonably and safely manage the fact of gun ownership" in a way that would make a repeat of Sandy hook less likely.

Immediately, Tom Anderson shot down every item in James' list rather than examining each of the points to see if any of them had merit and were worthy of further discussion. This kind of "any change is bad change" response takes it right back to "all or nothing" which is almost always a discussion killer. I objected to the distraction of "well, people oppose other kinds of change, too" which is not even relevant here. What we should be talking about is finding ways to hopefully circumvent future instances of wholesale human slaughter. And none of James' original suggestions were "all or nothing" approaches.

But now you try to drag it back there with your non-sequitur about the "state" having a "monopoly on armed violence". Which frankly doesn't have a thing to do with James' original ideas.

It does, however, nicely illustrate how these discussions get veered so far off-course with "all or nothing" responses which is one of the reasons this country seems entirely incapable of taking a reasoned and logical approach to the question of how to marry a discussion of "2nd Amendment rights" to figuring out "How do we keep 6 year olds from getting mowed down in their classroom without turning public schools into armed camps?"

And no matter how much some people or the NRA might wish it could be so, the "public schools as armed camps" is NOT the answer that you're going to get everyone to automatically come onboard with.

To quote James Hamilton, "There are a multitude of options to explore. Let's get to it."

That was a yes or no type of question.

"Do you believe the state should have a monopoly on armed violence?"

How many places are you going to try this?

It's a thread highjack attempt. Write your own article on the subject and submit it to "Community Voices" if you're so darned anxious to hear people's ideas on it.

Guns regs limited? Focus on ammunition or "well regulated"

Okay, there's the 2nd Amendment limit to how much government can regulate guns. Understand looking at history: "the 1774 import ban on firearms and gunpowder; the 1774-75 confiscations of firearms and gunpowder; and the use of violence to effectuate the confiscations. It was these events that changed a situation of political tension into a shooting war. Each of these British abuses provides insights into the scope of the modern Second Amendment."

Guns are not much good without ammunition. Register it, regulate its sale, limit its sale. Creative minds should be able to come up with a way to regulate the amount of ammunition available so that hunting and self-defense are possible but not the devastation of Columbine, Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook.

Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
Time the militia of gun owners in this country became "well regulated."

Citizen's United Anyone?

Despite rhetoric about only calling balls and strikes, Scalia and his conservative cohorts
have no qualms about legislating from the bench. If they went by the intent of the Framers, they allow a ban on anything more powerful than a musket.

Framer's intent

No the framer's intent was to make a populous that could defend the country in need and to check the power of out of control governments. So if we went by the framer's intent then we would allow weapons on the same level as our military of the day. This would then include fully automatic weapons, rocket launchers, mortars and tanks. We should not be looking for ways to give up our rights, but ways to protect them. People should be responsible in their actions. My guns have never hurt anyone and pose no threat to anyone's safety. Just like my choice of who I decide to love or marry has no bearing on someone elses life.

Accountabilty is the goal.

Like vehicles, guns need registration.

Like drivers, gun owners must be licensed for the class of weapons they own, and insured for liability.

In this way, individuals will be required to pay for the risk their weapons pose to the lives, liberty and property of others.

Phased in and with appropriate penalties for non-compliance, manufacturers and dealers are the place to start.

We once had no laws for who could own or operate an automobile.