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Continued: Universal background checks are focus of Minnesota gun debate

  • Article by: JIM RAGSDALE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 22, 2013 - 2:18 PM

Rager said he is concerned about disqualifying a greater number of those with mental illness and suggested it could affect veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Michael Undlin of Plymouth, testifying against the bill, said he struggled with anxiety and depression but has no violent tendencies. Under the bill, he said, “If I keep my gun, I’m a criminal.”

Kevin Vick, a licensed firearms dealer from Lakeville, also opposed the bill. He said he supports a federal background-check system, even though he admitted it needs to be improved. He said that Champion’s bill would not have prevented many recent mass killings and that it would not stop street criminals from finding weapons.

“Criminals have not and will not subject themselves to universal background checks,” he said. He urged the committee not to approve “feel-good, knee-jerk, politically expedient bills.”

A second bill to come before the committee attracted little debate. Supported by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, it would tighten state law to ensure that certain violent offenders and juveniles would face stiff penalties for illegally possessing guns.

 

Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042

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  • Andrew Rothman, left, vice president of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, and Chris Rager, a National Rifle Association lobbyist, both of whom testified, consulted while listening to testimony on gun-sale background checks.

  • Gun owner Les Hammond of Stillwater, who has some hearing loss, cupped his ear to better hear testimony during hearings on ways to prevent gun violence, held Thursday at the State Capitol.

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