By: José Niño
While most people’s attention is focused on the 2020 Presidential election, gun control is advancing in Minnesota.
Universal background checks and red flag gun confiscation orders were approved in the Minnesota House of Representatives late last month.
House File 8 was approved on a 69-61 vote. HF 8 would expand background check requirements for the sale and transfer of guns, although there would be some exceptions. HF 9, the red flag order, passed by a 68-62 vote count. HF 9 would empower law enforcement officers to confiscate firearms without due process if someone allegedly presents a threat to themselves or others. Last year, similar bills were passed in the House but were not taken up by the Republican majority in the Senate.
Gun control advocates were vocal about passing these bills. State Rep. Ruth Richardson, the main author of HF 9, urged her colleagues to "be proactive" on the day the bill was voted on. She drew upon previous examples of states passing gun control to motivate her colleagues to do the same.
"Twenty years ago when Connecticut passed this law, they passed it after tragedy. When Indiana passed their red flag law, it was after tragedy. Florida’s was after tragedy," Richardson said on the House floor. "Let’s not wait for another tragedy."
Republican leadership was skeptical about the efficacy of these bills. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt contended that people who are seeking to hurt others will break the law to get guns regardless, and HFs 8 and 9 would do nothing to stop them. Further, law-abiding gun owners would be the ones most penalized by these laws.
Daudt accused Democrats of using the bills as an electoral talking point.
“Democrats, you are failing the people in your cities who are worried about violent gun crime and that will be in your hands,” he said.
Despite the constant fearmongering coming from anti-gun talking heads, gun laws have been fairly relaxed in the last 40 years throughout many states. In this same period, per capita gun ownership has also increased. Many think an America with more guns and less gun control would be a recipe for disaster. Well, they would be mistaken. Crime rates have continued to fall according to FBI data and research from gun policy expert John Lott.
Curiously, Connecticut was one of the first states to pass red flag laws in 1999. Nevertheless, this law could not prevent the Sandy Hook massacre of 2012. The real concern about red flag orders are the implications for civil liberties. We needn’t look further than the 2018 case of a Maryland man being killed in an encounter with law enforcement when they attempted to serve him a red flag order. Gun controllers should be careful about what they wish for.
Thanks to GOP control of the Minnesota Senate, these bills will likely face a certain death. But you never know with the GOP. So, it’s best that Minnesota Second Amendment activists not assume too much and continue turning up the heat on their elected officials regardless of the partisan makeup of the Senate.
José Niño is a Venezuelan-American political activist writing from Fort Collins, Colorado. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.