St. Paul, MN – Gun rights supporters and gun control advocates butted heads last week during Minnesota House committee hearing.
Republicans introduced two bills aiming to protect Second Amendment rights. One focusing on the right to carry, and the other on the right to “stand your ground.”
“The reason that these are important topics are that we need to continue to protect and defend our Constitutional rights,” Rep. Eric Lucero (R-Dayton) said in an interview with Alpha News.
The Right to Carry
The first bill, the “Constitutional carry” bill, would eliminate the state’s permit-to-carry requirement in the majority of cases, except for those who cannot legally carry a gun, like a felon.
Under current law, M.S.A. § 624.714, a person found carrying a gun while in a public place without a permit is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. In order to obtain a permit, Minnesotans must first complete a gun safety class with a certified instructor. The proposed legislation would make the training voluntary.
The right to carry a gun without a permit “is essentially protecting Second Amendment rights” according to Lucero.
Minnesota is not alone in considering a “Constitutional carry” law. Twelve states have already passed similar provisions, and that number is expected to grow this year. The Crime Prevention Research Center predicts at least four more states will pass laws eliminating the need for a permit to carry.
Opponents of the bill expressed safety concerns surrounding the bill during the hearing Wednesday night. Protect Minnesota, a gun safety organization, pointed to the 4,300 people denied permits from 2006-2016. The group obtained the data from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The organization passed out packets to each representative on the committee that contained names of constituents in their districts who were denied permits. Rep. Lucero’s packet consisted of 61 pages with approximately 15 denials on each page, making a grand total of 915 denials. All of the denials listed Hennepin as the county of denial. Lucero quickly noticed a discrepancy.
Lucero’s House District 30B exists almost entirely in Wright County. The only exception is the City of Hanover which is split between Wright County and Hennepin County. Of the 3,200 residents in Hanover, only a quarter reside in the Hennepin County portion. Lucero says this is a classic example of how the left skews facts.
“The anti-Constitution, anti-Second Amendment, gun grabbers pervert statistics and use false information to to promote their anti-gun agenda,” Lucero said.
Lucero clarified that he does not necessarily believe Protect Minnesota was intentionally using false information, but was intending to mislead.
“Situations like that are a half truth. It is a tactic of the left. They derive their conclusion first, and then search for facts to back up their preconceived notion.”
Standing Your Ground
The second bill, commonly referred to as the “stand your ground” bill, deals with the use of deadly force in scenarios of self defense.
Under current law, if an intruder is in a person’s home threatening great bodily harm or death, or committing a felony, the home owner is authorized to use deadly force.
The proposed legislation aims to clarify the current law regarding self-defense and duty to retreat.
“Do you have a duty to retreat if you are confronted in your house? The Second Amendment says no.” Lucero said. “If you are being threatened by great bodily harm or death, you have no duty to retreat.”
Lucero was quick to note that one should take any option to escape if they find themselves in a dangerous situation. However, if unable to escape, this law clarifies that a person does not have to retreat before using deadly force.
Opponents during the hearing were quick to come up with scenarios where deadly force would be an overkill.
“Do we really want the law to presume that a homeowner has the right to shoot and kill an unarmed teenager who sneaks into a garage to steal a bicycle, as would be the case under this proposal?” Dakota County attorney James Backstrom asked during the hearing.
Lucero understands the fear, but believes it is misleading.
“It’s a red herring. A strict reading of the law has been in place many years. And those problems haven’t occurred,” Lucero said when asked about Backstrom’s question. “Law abiding citizens exercise reasonableness and extreme caution when making decisions, especially in regards to deadly force.”
Even with the vocal opposition at the Wednesday hearing, Lucero believes the tide is changing in favor of gun rights.
“People are tired of legislating by emotions. The anti-gun left were trying to play on people’s emotions. But it’s not working anymore. It’s not resonating,” Lucero said.