Gun Rights Prevail Over Legislative Challenges

Both NRA’s Gosch and Senator Anderson said they expect to see gun rights challenged by similar gun control bills in the next legislative session.

Gun Rights

The extended Minnesota legislative session ended on May 25 after hitting a frenzied crescendo that challenged legislators to face a multifaceted omnibus bill in an all-night marathon round.

Several initiatives directly threatening Minnesota gun rights were defeated. Reviewing gun-related issues covered during this legislative year, Brian Gosch, Minnesota State Director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), spoke on May 30 to about 50 people gathered in a Cabela’s conference room in Rogers. Gosch was joined by Senator Paul Anderson of District 44 in Plymouth.

Gosch lobbies for favorable Second Amendment issues. His goal this legislative session was “to defeat gun control legislation.” Two major gun rights attacks were blocked on a bipartisan basis in the Senate, and so did not achieve a stand-alone vote on the House floor, he said.

Defeated gun control provisions were HF 8, covering controversial Universal Background Checks, and HF 9, so-called Red Flag Laws, covering persons potentially declared to be ineligible or unqualified to own a firearm. The bills were fraught with numerous flaws, Gosch said, lacking clear provision for a gun owner to contest findings against them that could lead to the immediate removal of their firearms. Additionally, there is no right for a gun owner to appear before any legal authority, nor is there a right for that person to be represented by a lawyer.

“There is no clear path under the law for how to get back your firearms.”

He credited the work of the Minnesota Senate that faced nearly 6,000 bills introduced in this legislative session. He contrasted that with legislation introduced in his home state of South Dakota that produced only about 500 bills this session. Gosch formerly served in the South Dakota legislature.

“Senators work hard…They’re paid on a part-time basis, but (the job) really is full-time.”

Gosch introduced Senator Paul Anderson of Plymouth, crediting the senator with voting “in concert with the NRA in both pro- and con- issues.

Sen. Anderson chairs the Higher Education Committee, among other duties. He grew up hunting and fishing, and he holds a permit to carry. Anderson said that the gun control lobby is outspending Second Amendment advocates “by considerable” and the issue around guns produced a $1.2 million race for one contested seat in 2016.

Rather than blaming guns, Anderson’s focus is,” What are we doing with the criminals?” He wants to block illegal firearm transfers by enacting penalties of 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines in a case where a gun is transferred to a person who then commits a crime. Anderson wants to hold the gun seller accountable.

Guns have long been a part of Minnesota life. Talk of gun control comes at a time when “trap shooting is the highest growth sport in Minnesota,” Anderson said. He described the Minnesota Legislature as “201 people in office in Saint Paul, representing many different world views.” Citizens need to be engaged to preserve gun rights.

“Right now, there’s hyper-engagement opposing (gun rights).” The senator encouraged gun rights advocates to interact with people who don’t agree with “where you’re coming from to know where they stand.”

Reflecting on expansive growth in the state budget, “It’s a new day in politics today .. In ten years (the Minnesota state budget) went from $29 billion to $48 billion. The governor passed $12 billion tax increases over four years.”

Brian Gosch asked Senator Anderson how constituents can present their views to elected officials. Anderson replied, “Submit as an individual – go in person – or call – make (contact) personal. We are accessible.”

Both NRA’s Gosch and Senator Anderson said they expect to see gun rights challenged by similar gun control bills in the next legislative session.

Positive Legislation

Gosch and Anderson reviewed positive gun legislation coming out of the session, including :

  • No Child Left Indoors program, allocated $500,000 to gun safety training available to select high schools.
  • Angling training program, allocated $200,000, to teach fishing techniques and basics via eligible non-profit fishing leagues and high schools.
  • Hunter safety and participation for persons with disabilities who are accompanied by a trained, licensed individual. Eligible citizens can take hunter safety class and get a permit to hunt small game without a fee.
  • Permissive legislation allowing crossbow construction to vary from the prior 30-inch length restriction, to allow bows to more closely conform to the user’s physical needs.
  • Legislation allowing bear-baiting on some public lands, with required GPS reporting.
  • Night vision equipment permitted for use in hunting fox and coyote.
  • Use of 410 shotguns in turkey hunting.

Gosch summarized, saying, “Given the current political environment, it was a pretty good year, all things considered.”

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