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Gun advocates vent over proposed restrictions on assault weapons

MinnPost photo by James Nord
NRA lobbyist Chris Rager said lawmakers should focus on real solutions.

Tim Jezierski was away at work when a man called his home and threatened to kill his wife and family. She started loading the guns.

“He said he was going to come and shoot them,” Jezierski said, but the police didn’t want to investigate because it was just a threat over the phone. He got his wife out of the house, and he isn’t sure if the man ever showed up to harm her, but the Two Harbors firearm instructor wasn’t impressed with the police’s response.

He’s also displeased with lawmakers in St. Paul for considering a proposal to ban assault weapons in Minnesota.

Jezierski was one of many gun-rights advocates who pushed back hard Wednesday against the proposed legislation, which received an informational hearing in the House Public Safety Committee as part of Gun Week at the Capitol.

“It’s putting lipstick on a pig … We’re doing things. We’re saying, ‘Look what we did — we made things safer,’ when we’ve done nothing with this bill but disarm honest citizens,” Jezierski said.

St. Paul Rep. Michael Paymar, who chairs the committee, is considering legislation for a potential omnibus gun bill. The group heard proposals to expand background checks and to grant local police more authority when granting permits on Tuesday.

Rep. Michael Paymar
MinnPost photo by James Nord
Rep. Michael Paymar, chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, asked for the audience to remain respectful.

Wednesday’s heated hearing showed just how deep the rift is between gun control advocates and supporters of gun owners’ rights. Both sides clashed over whether the guns in question are sport rifles for hunting and competition or assault rifles for mass murder —and whether they’re welcome in Minnesota.

“Simply put, the only real use for these tools is in fact to kill our fellow citizens, and they are the preferred tools of the mass killer,” said John Egelhof, a retired FBI officer. “The bloody reality is the absence of these weapons and components would lower the lethality of these killers.”

Rapport between the two sides took a turn for the worse on Wednesday as gun advocates’ frustration boiled over after just a day of hearings.

Under consideration was a bill from Rep. Alice Hausman, who left the committee shortly after outlining the measure. The measure would require assault weapons to be rendered unusable, turned over to police or registered with the state.

“This is really preposterous,” said Rep. Tony Cornish, an outspoken gun advocate.

The crowd, as large as the one that filled the hearing room on Tuesday, cheered multiple times when Republican lawmakers pushed back against supporters of the ban.

“This firearms ban, it’s failed policy. It’s been tried before,” Chris Rager, a lobbyist for the NRA, told the committee, noting that lawmakers should focus on “real solutions.”

Paymar, who appeared a little relieved that the meeting was over with, said he appreciated the discussion. There was so much testimony that consideration for Hausman’s other bill, a measure to ban high-capacity magazines, had to be postponed.

While it’s unlikely that either proposal will make it into any final legislation, gun supporters weren’t taking any chances.

“This hearing was almost outlandish. They were claiming that the NRA and gun owners are paranoid about eventual confiscation, but that’s in this bill,” Cornish said. “Registration and confiscation are in the bill, so how we can be paranoid if we think that’s coming eventually? It is here. People are actually after your guns, and so the paranoia has proved to be prophetic.”

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Comments (36)

  1. Submitted by Erl Svendsen on 02/06/2013 - 04:00 pm.

    It’s about liberty!

    The 2nd amendment recognizes the right to arms. The right of self-defense comes from the rights of man, not from government. The writings at the time of the Bill of Rights indicated that the 2nd amendment was a defense against tyrants.

    The bill proposed at the legislature would require Minnesotans to turn in the best-selling semi-automatic weapons, a magazine-fed design that is over 100 years old.

    The law abiding citizens will not allow this type of gun control to pass an uninformed legislative body!

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/12/2013 - 08:48 pm.


      The second amendment clearly indicates the right to bear arms is linked to a well regulated militia. Are you part of a militia?

  2. Submitted by Thomas Pavey on 02/06/2013 - 04:29 pm.


    I still don’t understand the resistance to full background checks and registration.

    Honestly legislation that would track guns back to their rightful owners and to hold said owners responsible for their firearms would go a long way. If someone breaks into your house and steals a weapon that is not locked in a safe, you should be responsible. Heck, we can give federal rebates for gun safes and spur the economy.

    Here’s what should happen
    -All firearms should be registered
    -All firearms should have background checks
    -All firearms should be in safes when the home is empty (I wouldn’t want to stop people from sleeping with a gun at the bedside…) What would have happened in Sandy Hook if the guns were properly locked up?

    In reality, those measures would in theory keep the weapons out of the hands of criminals and others who are not allowed to have them. The NRA likes to talk about how responsible owners are being punished… well, we need more responsibility from them.

    The above measures really seem common sense. The discussion about types of weapons and magazine capacity are very opinionated and likely to go nowhere, but mandating responsible ownership and properly screening potential buyers seems like a no-brainer to me.

    • Submitted by Manuel Jaramillo on 02/06/2013 - 07:23 pm.

      Because the gun grabbers haven’t given a solid reason for a registry. And with all the “paranoia” being rationalized by inclusion of controversial measures.

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/07/2013 - 07:41 am.

        ….solid reason for a registry…

        You haven’t been awake for any of the discussions about “straw purchases”, shady dealers, on-line sales, gun-show sales, and stolen weapons, have you?

        • Submitted by Susan McNerney on 02/13/2013 - 10:15 pm.

          They’re all straw buyers

          that’s what the gun advocates won’t admit. The moment a “legitimate” buyer purchases a gun, they’re just initiating a life cycle for that weapon that all too often ends up in the black market.

          Even when it doesn’t, a gun is far more likely to harm the person who buys it – or someone in their household – than to be used for “self defense.”

  3. Submitted by Nathan Roisen on 02/06/2013 - 05:34 pm.

    “Failed Policy” vs. “Real Solutions”

    These two catchphrases (fuzzy and nonspecific, much like “job creator” or “jobs, jobs, jobs”) seem to be popping up quite often in the gun violence debate.

    I am legitimately curious to know, by what metrics, old policies have failed, and how new policies can be crafted that evolve based on those failures; as well as what real solutions can be crafted, as most of the gun supporters seem to deny that there is much of a problem in the first place.

    I do think that there is pretty substantial evidence that most of the ‘solutions’ that have been enacted have either been killed before it was clear that they failed (Assault Weapons Ban), or were neutered beyond effectiveness (hamstringing of the ATF) by Republican representatives.

    I also have noticed that the crowd shots of these packed-to-the-gills hearings show at least 20 white males over the age of 50 for every other person. I hope legislators don’t let this very vocal minority from a shrinking demographic sway them beyond their actual importance.

    • Submitted by Matt Touchette on 02/07/2013 - 11:34 am.

      Gun supporters do not deny that there is a problem, we simply don’t believe the problem is the gun. The problem is the person behind the gun. Very little, if any, of the legislation introduced would have prevented the events at Sandy Hook for example. I believe we have a degradation of culture problem, not a gun problem.

      The ’94 AWB also would not have prevented the events of Sandy Hook, it also didn’t prevent Columbine. FBI crime stats, and the ’04 analysis, did not show direct correlation between the AWB and a reduction in gun violence. At the same time, there is little evidence that it specifically failed to prevent gun violence. I would argue that it did not live up to the hype and violence prevention that was touted when the law was enacted. The issues with the ATF, and other governmental roadblocks to enforcement of current laws, can be blamed on both sides of the political fence.

      Nathan, the Baby Boomers & Gen. X’ers are and will be for some time the largest generations currently alive. It is the younger crowd that is in the minority.

  4. Submitted by Dan Bosch on 02/06/2013 - 06:09 pm.

    There is a Gun Show Loophole in MN

    Regardless of what the extreme* gun rights supporters say, gun shows in MN (and flea markets and private sales) do not require background checks to purchase a firearm. If you buy one from Cabelas or Joe’s or any other retailer you will need to fill out a form for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and the information you provide will be called in by the clerk and the store will only release the firearm when given clearance. No such check is done at a gun show. This is why it is called a loophole. Someone who would fail the background check at a licensed dealer can still obtain a gun elsewhere.

    * I am using the term “extreme” because many of those folks are not in the middle of the spectrum where most gun owners are. I own a number of different types of firearms for hunting (deer and WF), sport (biathlon) and home protection, and I see almost nothing in these proposals or Obama’s that would hinder my ownership or use in any way. I’ don’t feel we need to regulate firearms transfers that stay in the family, though it is a problem if it becomes a loophole for someone who is ineligible such as a “straw buyer” scheme.

    • Submitted by K Rovick on 02/07/2013 - 06:54 pm.

      The way things go…

      Unfortunately, when you look at states that have become exceedingly gun unfriendly, such as California, many of us see bills such as the proposed AWB as moving in that direction. Today, several democrats in Cali made a public statement where they announced something like 10 new measures. They include making it a felony to own hollowpoints (you say you’re a deer hunter…), a registration and reporting system on ammunition purchases, with a max of 500 rounds (I imagine you burn through a fair amount of ammo with your .22 that you use for biathlon, or just plinking), requiring all magazines to be permanently affixed to a firearm ( bet you change mags on that biathlon gun), banning all semiauto rifles that take a mag, and you’re also required to be licensed and carry insurance to exercise what is considered an individual constitutional right.

      Here is the full video:

      And here is an outline of some of the proposals.

      The issue isn’t ‘just one more law’ but rather that blue states have generally only become more restrictive. Right now, YOUR representatives are trying to make it a felony, in MN, to own a ruger 10/22 with a factory 10 round magazines. In California, they’re trying to make it completely illegal. So if you say ‘I’m just a hunter, I don’t need an AR-15 with a 15 round magazine”, ten years from now you may find that the next round of restrictions will directly affect you.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/06/2013 - 06:49 pm.


    There are about 32,000 folks that would like to testify, but can’t make it, seems guns put them all down for the count one way or the other in 2012. The US invaded Iraq over WMD, Sadam, gassed ~ 5000 Kurds back in 88. The 32,000 number is growing Y/Y. Now as a rationale person. What is the real WMD? Clearly the proliferation of guns! No escape, from the facts.

    • Submitted by K Rovick on 02/07/2013 - 03:04 am.

      But is gun control truly needed in Minnesota?

      Certainly, any death is a tragedy. But one needs to ask themselves whether such huge steps are actually needed in Minnesota. We have a very low murder rate, at 1.4/100,000 compared to the national average of 4.7/100,000 (I pulled these from the 2011 FBI UCR). It is noting that the United Kingdom, with restrictions that most Americans would find unacceptable, has a murder rate of 1.2/100,000. So in a state where I can legally carry a loaded firearm on my person, where you can buy guns without a background check, where guns are in 47% of all homes, has a murder rate that is about 15% higher than a country where obtaining a firearm is onerous. We have laws that allow for concealed carry, but we require a permit to purchase a pistol or an ‘assault weapon’. Such restrictions combined with a responsible firearms community, effective law enforcement, and a myriad of social factors seem to have led to a safe state while allowing law abiding gun owners to exercise their rights without any truly excessive intrusions or registries.

      It would seem that our relative success in keeping violent crime levels at such an enviably low rate has to do with less with the level of gun ownership, but with other factors.

  6. Submitted by Robert Fowler on 02/06/2013 - 07:13 pm.

    No registration

    The only reason for the government to register firearms is so they will know where to go confiscate them. Just a look at the last century shows this to be true. Russia, Germany, China and many more registered firearms. Followed by confiscation and the extermination of over 100 million people. After the government confiscates your guns, it’s only a short boxcar ride to the ovens.

    • Submitted by Tim Walker on 02/07/2013 - 07:59 am.

      And they say there’s no paranoia?

      First they take your guns, then they gas you?


      Reality check in Aisle 4, Reality check in Aisle 4 …

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/06/2013 - 10:01 pm.


    how the same arguments for unrestricted gun ownership keep popping up, despite the facts.
    You people must be cut-and-pasting from the same gun blogs.

  8. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/06/2013 - 10:23 pm.


    Looks like the government knows where to get: My computer, my phone, my house, my car, my truck, my bike, my boat, my ATV, my Social Security, my marriage, my property, my vote, my 401K, my 529, my bank account, and what all else! So the registration issue is, you can take all that stuff and then some “but not my guns”? It reinforces the catch 22 point, if “guns” are that important, those folks should be on the mentally impaired list that shouldn’t own guns.

  9. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 02/07/2013 - 07:13 am.

    Headline is wrong.

    Mr. Nord wrote:

    “Gun advocates vent over proposed restrictions on assault weapons”

    Not quite right.

    “Gun advocates express concern over proposed DFL restrictions on semi-automatic rifles”

    There. Fixed.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/07/2013 - 09:38 am.

      Reread the Constitution

      A political party cannot -restrict- anything beyond its own practices.
      All it can do is -propose- restrictions which then must be voted on the the Legislature, and then pass muster by the Judiciary.
      That’s our system of democratic (or GOP) rule.

  10. Submitted by Norman Teigen on 02/07/2013 - 08:37 am.

    2nd Amendment

    There is much more to the understanding of the 2nd Amendment than the NRA apologists would have us believe. They key term is “well-regulated militia.” Citizens brought their own weapons as a part of their civic obligation to serve in the militia. Please do not be misled by the NRA on this point. There is plenty of information available to the general public from reliable sources to refute this misunderstanding.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/07/2013 - 09:32 am.


      The weapons owned by most citizens when the Second was written were light fowling and ‘varmint’ pieces unsuitable for military use. When they DID join the militia, most of them were issued military muskets (just like today).
      And handguns were virtually unknown.

  11. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/07/2013 - 08:52 am.

    So far

    …the comment I like the best is Dennis Wagner’s last sentence.

  12. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 02/07/2013 - 09:03 am.

    Ode to a Moose

    Beyond Words

    In the heat of the hearings

    I dreamed a bull moose

    strolled down the aisle…

    the speakers stopped speaking,

    the room was silent.

    Moose scaled the podium,

    made a loud grunt…

    left a deposit,

    then shuffled out of the chambers.

    And none the wiser.

  13. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 02/07/2013 - 09:20 am.

    The fact that people somehow think a tyrannical government is only being held off from taking us away in railroad cars by the threat of some out-of-shape guys and their home arsenal is pretty pathetic. News-flash: the government has the better weapons, and always will. And yet they haven’t come for you…

  14. Submitted by John N. Finn on 02/07/2013 - 10:55 am.

    “…a defense against tyrants.”

    It’s not strictly an assault weapon as commonly thought of, and some models of 50cal sniper rifles are bolt action rather than semi-auto. The links below are the first I’ve seen the media mention these in the context of gun control. As of now, less regulated than pistols as I understand it, and I suppose the NRA would like to keep it that way.

  15. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 02/07/2013 - 11:38 am.

    Bill is poorly written

    I am a gun owner and willing to see some changes. But this bill is so poorly written that antique guns and every-day plinkers would be labeled as assault weapons.

    Such as these three:
    Browning SA-22

    Henry Lever Action 22

    And this 100-year-old plus antique

    In addition, my deer rifle, which has a removable magazine that holds 3 rounds would be considered an assault rifle.

    You make every old guy in the state have to pay to register this old Western-style gun and tell him it has to be destroyed instead of handed down to his grandson and he will hate the state forever.

  16. Submitted by Matt Touchette on 02/07/2013 - 11:41 am.

    The following statement is not correct:

    “Under consideration was a bill from Rep. Alice Hausman, who left the committee shortly after outlining the measure. The measure would require assault weapons to be rendered unusable, turned over to police or registered with the state.”

    Rep. Hausman did not present her bill, she left before her bill was presented.

  17. Submitted by David Muschenheim on 02/07/2013 - 12:50 pm.

    All guns are not created equal

    I think it makes sense to create a schedule classification for guns like we have for drugs or vehicle licenses. If we look at the demand of the public to have high capacity death machines more tightly restricted than hunting weapons we can create different levels of scrutiny for different classifications of weapons permits. We use schedule classification on drugs to restrict abusive use where someone can do real harm to themself. Why when dealing with something as potentially deadly on a massive scale is the thought so distressing? I’d rather be in a world where a mass murder could only get his hands on a low caliber revolver or hunting rifle versus a high capacity assualt rifle.

    I also think there should be a greater tax on ammunition. If we look at taxing vices that damage our communities such as alcohol and tobacco to help offset the burden that these activities place on all of us, why can’t ammo ( and guns for that matter ) face a higher tax burden. If we again schedule the ammunition so that sporting ammunition is not as effected as high caliber people killers that would seem more fair to me and shouldn’t hamper sportsmen in their pursuit of game.

    As far as it goes for the NRA I think they have lost all credibility as advocates for people and really are a trade organization for weapon’s manufacturers. I think legislators need to regard them as such. Sure they have members who are as rabid as they are, but I’ll bet you that the majority of their members would be okay with some further restrictions if it meant avoiding another Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, Accent Signage, Virginia Tech…

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/12/2013 - 09:00 pm.


      David, you make some very sensible arguments. I’m a gun owner and fully support background checks and some restrictions on the types of guns people can buy. Assault weapon bans and magazine restrictions though just aren’t sensible and well thought out proposals.

      The NRA seems like it’s run by a bunch of kooks. Those people will never get a dime from me. That’s a shame because as a gun collector I would be happy to join up if they took a reasonable position on gun laws.

  18. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 02/07/2013 - 01:03 pm.


    I haven’t heard how it is that a guy with a bunch of military assault weapons is part of a “well-regulated militia.” If we need a well regulated militia, theoretically to prohibit our government from registering and then taking over all personally owned guns, what part of this is well regulated.
    This amendment was created to allow the southern states, especially, to keep slaves in line. Every other week, I believe it was, these “militia” should up at slave quarters to make sure everyone who was supposed to be there, was there. It was a compromise understood at the time between slave- and free states that did not mention slavery but was the real reason for the 2nd amendment.
    It was created because the southerners were scared to death that the slaves–who outnumbered them–could not rise up and kill the slaveholders. To maintain control, the states formed armed militias, requiring white men between the ages of 18 to 45 to serve as slave patrollers who would inspect the slave quarters for weapons and seek out and punish anyone suspected of plotting a rebellion. This is the real basis for the conservative claim of the mantle of states rights, despite the fact that the phrase was most famously used as a justification for slavery and discrimination.
    The 2nd amendment was a compromise to the South which feared that by ratifying the Constitution to form a strong central government, they would lose control of the state militias. To secure the votes of the southern states for ratification, a compromise was needed and that was the 2nd amendment.

  19. Submitted by Michele Olson on 02/07/2013 - 02:35 pm.

    Who are these people who have men calling the house and threatening to kill them, and what kind of world do they live in, that they all seem to think grabbing the gun is the answer? What a drama.

    If the police didn’t respond properly, then the answer isn’t more guns, the answer is getting things changed at the police department so nobody else goes through something like that. We lived in a bunker-down society once: it was called the Dark Ages.

    I will agree that gun control isn’t the only issue that needs to be looked at. But firing a weapon that can send a projectile through the wall of your neighbor’s house? Yes, by all means, drag them into your drama.

  20. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 02/10/2013 - 12:52 pm.

    Put the Fears to Rest

    If gun owners are wrong to be afraid that their guns will be taken away, it should be easy to reassure them. What gun restrictions would go too far? What actions would Dems and libs oppose?

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 02/12/2013 - 09:09 pm.


      There’s no way to reassure them. They’re not rational.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/13/2013 - 10:36 am.

      Hard to reassure an immovable object

      In another thread, a gun supporting commenter said to me something along the lines of “What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ do you not understand?” As far as these people are concerned, there is NO level of restriction that does not violate their understanding of the Second Amendment, so that pretty much kills any possibility of reassurance or discussion.

      Of course, they selectively choose to disregard the part of the Second Amendment that links “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” to “A well regulated Militia”. Selective comprehension comes in very handy for them in discussions such as these.

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