By Jim Ragsdale
House Speaker Paul Thissen, coping with a divided DFL House caucus on the issue of what to do about gun violence, told the Star Tribune Wednesday that there will be no gun bill on the House floor this year.
The decision kills the effort, launched in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings in December, to pass measures to curb gun violence in the state. The House and Senate had focused on expanding background checks on handguns and semiautomatic, military-style assault weapons to some private purchases.
While that bill has moved through committee in the Senate, it has faced strong opposition from the National Rifle Association and gun-rights supporters in the Legislature. Thissen tried once to forge a compromise, which focused on background checks at private sales at gun shows.
But even that bill faced difficulty in passing the House.
"We're not going to take up the gun bill this year," he said. "Neither side has been willing to come to an agreement. We just need more time to work out something that's going to work to prevent gun violence.
"I think because of the intensity on both sides of the issue, even some common-sense solutions can't be agreed upon right now," he said. "It's going to have to be something we'll continue to work on over the interim."
"We do have truly the only statewide caucus, and people come at this issue from very different perspectives," Thissen said. "I still believe there could be a reasonable common-sense middle ground, but we're not going to get there this year."