Minnesota legislators continued work over the weekend on a measure to prevent those convicted of domestic abuse or stalking from possessing firearms.
House leaders pushed the vote back to Wednesday, giving the measure’s sponsors an extra two days to finish a small technical change.
Critics of the proposal are working to ensure that there is ample due process for anyone who risks losing their firearm due to a restraining order. The measure also prohibits anyone with a restraining order from having a firearm while the order is in effect.
State Rep. Tony Cornish, the Legislature’s most outspoken critic of firearm restrictions, defended his work on the measure over the weekend in a letter to constituents.
“The bill was terrible when it was introduced,” he wrote.
Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said he felt the risks were too high to try to block it, potentially having to make the argument that convicted domestic abusers and stalkers deserved access to firearms.
“If we would have just said no and not worked on it, there was a very good chance of it passing in its terrible form,” he wrote.
He said there are now protections to ensure firearms are not taken away in the event of a restraining order until the case is heard by a judge.
“This is a bill that speaks of defending spouses from being assaulted or killed by another spouse,” he wrote. “It carried a different theme with it and a much harder one to define a reason to vote against.”
The measure now allows Minnesotans who must turn over their firearms to give them to a friend or relative, not just law enforcement. The friend or relative storing the firearms must sign an affidavit guaranteeing the weapons are not returned until the order is lifted.
Rob Doar, a lobbyist with the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, said his group does not believe the measure is necessary.
He has been working with Cornish and the bill sponsors to ensure those who risk losing their firearms have ample due process.
Advocates trying to prevent domestic abuse say this measure will put Minnesota at the forefront of the effort to prevent convicted abusers and stalkers from having access to firearms.
"This legislation is crucial to the safety of Minnesota women and families, and Minnesota moms are encouraged that both Republicans and Democrats are getting behind it,” said Rebecca Lowen, the head of the Minnesota branch of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We're working to make both sides of the aisle see that keeping guns away from domestic abusers isn't a partisan issue -- it's a safety issue.”