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Legislative search for consensus on gun laws looks tricky

Tom Bakk
MinnPost photo by James Nord
“I own a lot of semi-automatics, and the first one I bought was when I was in 11th grade,” said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a DFLer from Cook

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says he owns “a lot of semi-automatic weapons,” but isn’t sure whether they’re the sort of assault weapons that urban DFLers in the House proposed outlawing in a series of gun hearings this week.

“I don’t know. I don’t own an AR-15,” Bakk said with a laugh, referring to the rifle that’s become the face of a proposed assault weapons ban.

“I own a lot of semi-automatics, and the first one I bought was when I was in 11th grade,” said Bakk, a DFLer from Cook. “It’s a Remington 308, and it’s what I use for deer hunting. I own a lot of semi-automatic weapons. And if some people think those are assault weapons by definition, then I guess I have some, but I don’t have an AR-type weapon.”

Some reports show that rural DFLers like Bakk will be key to passing any of the gun-control bills that the House Public Safety Committee heard in a series of informational meetings this week. But legislative leaders in the House and Senate don’t appear ready to back many of the proposals.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, though, said he hopes lawmakers can “reach some consensus about public safety and gun safety in the state of Minnesota yet this year in order to keep our kids and our communities safe.” The speaker said the House DFL caucus hasn’t taken a position on banning assault weapons or high-capacity magazines.

Bakk, when asked if he would support any gun-control measures, said proposals that would keep guns out of the hands of juveniles and people who are privately committed, as well as allow prosecutors to go after ammo possession, “seem to make some sense to me.”

Some gun advocates, including Joseph Olson, president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, said there might be room for compromise on that measure.

But House and Senate Republicans joined pro-gun advocates in criticizing DFLers for considering other proposals that would add restrictions on firearm ownership. They also attacked Democrats for not focusing on the state budget.

“Overall, we’re committed to growing the economy and creating jobs, and the budget is going to have a huge impact on that, and that’s what we’re concerned about,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said. “We look at this stuff right now as a distraction.”

Kurt Daudt
MinnPost photo by James Nord
“We look at this stuff right now as a distraction,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt.

Both Daudt and Senate Minority Leader David Hann said they hadn’t received any emails from constituents supporting more gun restrictions. Rather, the deluge of correspondence opposed limiting second amendment rights, they said.

“I have yet to receive one email in support of anything that they’re talking about in these public safety committees,” Daudt said. “But I have received hundreds … all of them organic emails, just people concerned about ‘Why are you doing this?’ ”

Polling released Feb. 5 from a KSTP-SurveyUSA poll shows roughly 60 percent public support for bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and 75 percent support for universal background checks.

Still, Bakk, said some people don’t understand the sentimentality attached to firearms that are passed down as “cherished family heirlooms.”

“There’s something special about them,” he said. “Many of them actually come with a story.”

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Comments (12)

Yes I would have liked to have had my Grandfather's guns

But mostly just because they were his guns but all they would have done is sit around under lock and key. Fortunately my dad who was very sensible passed them on to families with still active hunters (he never shot them either). That was the right thing to do.

Stories are important but it is the people that are worth remembering not the possessions. So I remember my grandfather every time I have a rare steak because I remember him taking his time to teach an 8 year old how to cook one "the right way."

I suspect that some of the people in the poll have those same kind of memories and yet they still support restrictions.

This is a distraction but a pretty good one - at least it beats a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But I will take note if a DFL legislature is as poorly focused as the GOP.

The should pass something and it won't be perfect but to have situations like the mass killings is intolerable.

Gun control

Semi-automatic pistols have been around for over 100 years. Models such as the Colt 1903 and the 1911 have been in civilian use as well as military service since the first world war. Semi-automatics are the best selling gun in Minnesota.

Rifles such as the AR-15 and Ruger mini 14 are ideal for home defense, when the police are minutes away when seconds count. Their most popular caliber, the .223, is too small for even deer. The guns are designed for self-defense.

As for safety vests or armor, it is a best practice to slip on such when defending home agains intruders. The vest has room for a cell phone, extra magazines, flashlights, etc.

Don't think for a minute that Minnesotans will give up their right of self-defense and defense against Tyranny, against the likes of former policeman Christopher Dorner.

I'm not aware

of any effort to ban all semi-automatic weapons, Mr. Svendsen. Please take the time to read the bills under consideration. When you do, you'll find that the main targets are rifles and shotguns which can be more easily concealed than the norm (e.g., folding stocks) and those capable of holding more than a set number of rounds in a single magazine.

By the way, the Ruger Mini 14 comes in a variety of styles, including a Ruger Mini Thirty with pistol grip folding stock, Harris bipod, 30rd magazine, AK-74 style flash hider with added flash diverter and 3-9x40mm scope on Ruger high-post rings, a weapon for which the term "overkill" was invented.

Interested readers can learn more about the weapon here, including the fact that it is available in models which would be unaffected by the proposed legislation:

We have a good handle on the numbr of mass murders in the U.S. over the past 4 years. Do you have any data on the number of home invasions resulting in injury or death in that same period?

Defense against tyranny?

Oh please, if the Big Evil Government suddenly descended on your house with Blackhawk helicopters and SWAT troops, are you really pretending you'd be standing out there on your front porch fending them off? You'd just give up and go back inside and whine about it on the Internet like everyone else. We haven't had a tyrannical government since we kicked out the old one in 1776 so maybe you should get a little more sleep and exercise instead of further corroding your brain with this nonsense.

For a lot of people yes

I'm sure people felt safe living close to Mt. St. Helen too. Just because we haven't had a tyrannical government since 1776 doesn't mean we won't have an attempt at another one. I don't see it happening in 10 or 20 years, but that doesn't mean it won't. And you're ridiculous ad hominem attacks set you in the good company of every crazy Republican I've had to argue with...

Public safety

is never a distraction, Rep. Daudt. If you can't keep two issues in mind, you shouldn't be in office, much less minority leader.

I'm equally disappointed in Sen. Bakk, who apparently hasn't taken the 5 minutes needed to read the bill in his own chamber, which clearly defines the types of weapons to which it applies. If you can't read it and apply it to your own weapons, you, too, might re-consider your qualifications for office.

Once again, the legislative chickens seem to be fouling the Capitol floors.

Hooo, boy…

To get this out of the way at the very beginning, I own multiple firearms of several types and calibers, and know how to use them.

Unless Mr. Svendsen spends his spare time in a bunker, strategically located 50 yards or so from his front door, and with clear lanes of fire covering all possible intruder routes to that door, much of what he has to say is delusional. Except in very rare cases (see: Little Falls, but then there are other problems…), long guns are not at all suited to home defense. Even if the rate of fire is substantial, they’re slow and clumsy to maneuver in close quarters. Wounding or killing people at close range (“stopping” them) is what handguns do best. The Colt Model 1911 semi-auto pistol was developed at the turn of the last century specifically for that reason. Filipino rebels were no more enthused about American rule after the Spanish-American War than they had been about Spanish rule, and American troops discovered, to their dismay, that some especially fanatical Filipino warriors armed with machetes were not being "stopped" by the standard-issue .38 caliber revolver. Hence, the .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol known 'round the world.

The trick is to find a handgun caliber with which the shooter will be comfortable (too big/powerful, there’s no accuracy; too small and it lacks the “stopping power” enthusiasts regard as essential), and a handgun with which the shooter will feel comfortable and confident shooting. Small, pocket-sized handguns in large calibers are often painful to shoot, and because of the recoil, are typically inaccurate. If the goal of “self-defense” is to be met, a compromise has to be found between stopping power and handling capabilities. That’s why there tends to be a correlation, if not a relationship, between smaller pistols and smaller calibers, and larger pistols and larger calibers.

Personally, I would regard someone who keeps his Kevlar vest handy “just in case” someone tries to break in, or in case he has to defend himself against “Tyranny,” with a capital “T,” as a candidate for a restraining order and fairly intense psychotherapy, but other readers may be more tolerant, or even supportive.

In the meantime, we should all rest assured that, if “the gummint” really wanted our firearms, it would have them already. The “tyranny response teams” I saw in Colorado, who came out of the woodwork whenever some proposal was made to at least attempt to mitigate the gun-based carnage, were, to be kind, rather sad, even if we leave their mental health out of the picture for the moment. A half-dozen middle-aged and pot-bellied men armed with whatever they can legally buy are not going to pose a serious threat to any military force likely to be engaged in the futile task of confiscating all the guns in America.

Ah shoot, tax all trigger fingers maybe..

I don't think any public, legislature-sponsored meetings on the gun issue - its use and abuse etc, will accomplish much except activate trigger fingers and sick trigger minds (fifteen minutes of who seem to be pretty much, more active lately...violence and serial killings trying to share part of the latest media hype?

Do I own a, but wish my brother-in-law who covered a commercial clip for the "Rat Pack" some years ago in Vegas and received a gift of classic dueling pistols used in the filming...I often did wish I had them as a memento would hang in a fine case and remember old Bill who when he went to the great beyond, my sister put his remains in their wine closet and when an old friend came by but had not been informed; didn't know good Irishman Bill had passed away...sis said "he's in the wine closet", old friend said, "Let him be.I'll come back later..."

Later Bill's remains were scattered over his favorite duck pond or something like that..and yes there's a weak connection here, maybe?.

Good man Bill actually met sis Irene in J School..saw her typing a story bent low with her bad eyes and thick lenses since a wee child..and old Bill exclaimed.."Anyone who can type with her boobs, I gotta meet that woman!"

Well, just trying to cool the issue here whatever the outcome and yet to get back on a most serious issue, The know what good Bill would not speak kindly to the mess we're in but can't repeat his posthumous words here, no.

Why not tax trigger fingers but being a two-finger typist this one may limit my capacity to write anymore...yet that may be a good thing...anyway we will probably shoot ourselves in the foot here, whatever the outcome...cheers

enforce the laws

The NRA and the GOPs have been spouting the notion that we do not need any more laws, all we need to do is enforce the existing ones. OK, fair enough. How about confirming a director for the ATF, who's job it is to enforce the laws? It's been 8 years since the ATF split off the Treasury department and they have still not been able to get a director's confirmation through congress. Give the ATF a strong director and the budget to make the deparrtment work, and maybe someday we can have sane gun laws and policies.


Nonfeasance, failure of a legislator to to do his job is one of the reasons for recall in MN. If the voters can show these guys are not reading bills and doing their jobs they can be recalled.

Read the latest Rolling Stone piece

on the NRA, which has long since gone from promoting the responsible ownership and use of guns to shilling for the industry.

Gun control in the UK

Anti gun people do not want to talk about what is happening in the UK or Russia that have extremely strict gun control. The latest Government figures show that the total number of firearm offences in England and Wales has increased from 5,209 in 1998/99 to 9,865 last year - a rise of 89 per cent. In some parts of the country, the number of offences has increased more than five-fold.
In eighteen police areas, gun crime at least doubled.
The statistic will fuel fears that the police are struggling to contain gang-related violence, in which the carrying of a firearm has become increasingly common place.
Last week, police in London revealed they had begun carrying out armed patrols on some streets.
The move means officers armed with sub-machine guns are engaged in routine policing for the first time. In Russia which is nearly gun less, the homicide rate is nearly 10 times that of the US.