Next week will be gun week in the Minnesota House.
Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, chairman of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee, said he is planning hearings for three days, Feb. 5-7, to discuss various proposals to reduce gun violence.
The plan is to hear testimony on a variety of ideas from all sides of the spectrum, he said. No votes will be taken on specific bills next week. The plan, Paymar said, is to try to craft a larger gun violence prevention bill that incorporates ideas with the broadest support.
Among the ideas that have been suggested, and are likely to be discussed, are:
-- Expanding background checks for purchases of pistols and semi-automatic weapons to gun shows and private purchases, which are now exempt from such checks. (Hunting rifles would not be affected by the proposal.)
-- A state ban on selling or purchasing assault weapons.
-- A state limit on the capacity of ammunition magazines.
-- Proposals to tighten up current background checks so disqualified people, including violent felons and people with severe mental health problems, are not allowed to purchase guns.
-- A suggestion from police officers that there be a minimum penalty for someone who commits a crime while carrying a weapon, even if the weapon wasn't used.
-- A proposal from gun-rights activist Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, to allow more teachers and school workers with permits and training to carry loaded weapons in schools.
Paymar said his plan is to hold daytime hearings at his regular committee time at 10 a.m., and to allow for further testimony each evening if it is needed. The committee's regular meeting room is Room 5 of the State Office Building.
Paymar has said he believes there is a "sea change" since the Connecticut school shootings, and legislators want to act to prevent gun violence. "It's hard to know what will pass," he said, adding: "I don't want to wait until the next horrible event happens."