The National Rifle Association will be active at the Minnesota Legislature this session, and it will seek to prevent significant changes to the state's background checks or to the availability of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

Chris Rager, who lobbies for the NRA in Minnesota, Iowa and Louisiana, said the organization will oppose all three measures and will focus on measures to ban "straw purchases" of weapons and to improve the quality of current background checks.

Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, chairman of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee, is working on a bill that would expand background checks to private sales and gun-show transactions. He also expects bills to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and is hopeful this will be a year one or more of those bills can pass.

But Rager said the NRA will oppose the measures and use its influence to defeat them.

"A grandfather's going to have to do a background check on a grandson, a next-door neighbor's going to have to do a background check on the next-door neighbor," Rager said of expanded background checks. "Criminals aren't getting firearms from gun shows. They're getting them from theft, from the black market, they're getting them through straw purchases."

He said expanding the checks "just puts one more barrier on law-abiding citizens from basically participating in the sale of property."


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