The push for expanding background checks to private sales, which has found a mixed reception at the Minnesota Legislature, received a boost from the state's prosecutors.

The board of directors of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association approved a resolution last week that supports background checks for sales at gun shows or over the internet.

The association, representing county prosecutors throughout the state, said sales among relatives should be exempt from background checks, as should other private sales that involve no more than five guns per year.

Currently in Minnesota, background checks are conducted for any guns sold by licensed dealers. A bill pending in the Senate would apply background checks to virtually all person-to-person private sales, except sales among relatives. A weaker version is pending in the House.

Debate on the gun issue could resume after the House and Senate complete work on initial versions of budget bills, expected to occur next week.

John Kingrey, executive director of the state prosecutors association, said the group was motivated by two developments: the failure of the U.S. Senate to pass a background checks bill and passage by the national prosecutors' association of a resolution supporting background checks.

The National District Attorneys Association adopted a resolution in support of universal background checks "to prevent felons and people who have been adjudicated mentally ill from legally purchasing firearms." The group's resolution said such a law should "respect the privacy rights of lawful gun owners."

The state  resolution says the county attorneys support expanding background checks "to include sales at gun shows and through the internet. Exemptions should continue for transfer or sales among family members or private sales of no more than five guns a year."


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