The Minnesota House overwhelmingly passed four gun rights bills Thursday, including a measure that would allow residents to own firearm silencers, also known as “suppression devices.”
The lack of rhetorical fire from opponents and the relatively low-key debate underscored the continuing success of the Minnesota gun rights movement, which enjoys near total support among Republicans and significant DFL backing, especially outstate.
The silencer bill, which was the most contentious, passed 89-40.
Another bill would end the requirement that holders of a permit to carry a firearm notify authorities before bringing their gun to the Capitol.
A third would clarify that Minnesotans can buy and sell long guns in other states.
A final bill would prohibit authorities from seizing firearms in the case of a declared emergency such as a tornado.
It’s uncertain whether gun-related legislation will gain traction in the Senate; DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he has no interest in changing the state’s existing gun laws.
The showpiece legislation was the silencer bill, which advocates say are legal in 39 other states.
Gun experts say “silencer” is an inaccurate Hollywood term. Unlike Tommy DeVito assassinating Stacks Edwards in the movie “Goodfellas” with a near silent shot to the head, in reality the devices reduce the noise level of a gunshot by about only 30 decibels — still leaving it eight times louder than a jackhammer.
The bill’s proponents say the muffling can prevent hearing loss and reduce noise nuisance.
Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis, argued that gunfire acts as a warning signal to people in urban districts such as his, and that any muffling is dangerous.
The real drama of the gun debate came with an amendment that would require background checks on private gun sales.
Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, who was wearing an NRA T-shirt, scoffed, decrying the effectiveness of background checks and calling the amendment the “typical reaction of a liberal who doesn’t like freedom of gun rights.”
The amendment failed, though with some parliamentary theatrics. Democrats, seeking to force Republican members to vote on background checks, which have widespread public support in suburban swing districts, asked the speaker to have the sergeant-at-arms retrieve absent members, but Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, and Rep. Roz Peterson, R-Lakeville, had been excused for the day.