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The divisions in the state over gun violence had loomed large among DFLers throughout the day as they struggled to craft a compromise on one of the toughest issues of the session. Paymar has fought the gun-control battle for years without success but felt there was a “sea change” among his colleagues after the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14.
But all GOP members of the committee opposed his bill, and key DFLers objected as well.
Hilstrom noted that she represents a district with mixed views on gun issues and said that the former state senator from her district, the late DFLer Linda Scheid, was a longtime sponsor of the permit-to-carry law.
Another member of the committee, Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, an assistant majority leader in the House, opposed the bill on Second Amendment grounds. An NRA-endorsed legislator, he said his constituents tend to back his position.
Angel Cradle and Julia Freeman, who lost relatives in shootings, testified in favor of the Paymar measure, saying it would help keep guns out of the wrong hands. “I believe this bill will keep these guns off the street,” Freeman said.
But Beverly Moreland of Cottage Grove denounced the bill and the committee members. “All you guys took an oath of office to defend and support the Constitution,” she said. “By even discussing this you are going against your oath. ... You shouldn’t be in office if you can’t keep your oath.”
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