Minnesota House panel votes to ban people convicted of domestic violence from possessing guns

  • Article by: MIKE CRONIN , Associated Press
  • Updated: March 25, 2014 - 4:40 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A measure to bar domestic abusers from having guns passed a House committee Tuesday as supporters testified it would make victims safer.

The House public safety committee approved the measure on a voice vote. Rep. Dan Schoen, the Cottage Grove Democrat sponsoring it, said anyone who beats women and children doesn't deserve to have a gun.

Schoen was careful to say the measure isn't aimed at "law-abiding gun owners."

It would also bar people subject to restraining orders from having guns.

Advocates cited statistics they said showed the chances of an abuse victim dying due to domestic violence rise when a gun is present.

"Firearms are instruments of torture in situations of domestic abuse," said Sara Grewing, a St. Paul city attorney. Victims are six times more likely to be killed if a weapon exists at the home, she said.

"The threat to use a weapon and threat to kill the victim are among the most reliable indicators of lethality, but they are often the most overlooked," said Bree Adams Bill, of the nonprofit St. Paul Domestic Abuse Intervention Project.

Support wasn't universal.

Julie Zappa of Grey Cloud Island testified she survived a physically abusive relationship, but is a gun owner and sees Schoen's bill as a potential infringement of her right to carry a gun. She said a piece of paper won't keep battered women safe.

"Abusers will find a way to get a gun whether it's legal or not," said Zappa, 54. "I understand the fear, personally, the anger. I overcame this."

The bill next goes before the House judiciary committee.

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