A House committee passed a stripped-down version of its background checks bill on a party-line vote Thursday night, extending background checks to private sales at gun shows.
With DFLers supporting the bill and GOP members opposing, the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee voted 10-8 to send the bill to the floor.
Originally, the sponsor and committee chairman, Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, proposed extending background checks to all private sales -- whether at gun shows, via the internet or among neighbors and friends. He could not pass that bill in his DFL-controlled committee.
So Paymar agreed to table his bill and to take up another, more limited version. The bill passed Thursday extends checks to private sales of handguns and semiautomatic, military-style assault weapons at gun shows, requiring buyers to show either a permit to purchase or a permit to carry before closing the deal. Those permits are evidence of extensive state and federal background checks.
Paymar said while this was a limited victory, it was significant, because he had never been able to get this far with his proposal in past sessions. He said he hopes someone will propose an amendment on the House floor to restore universal background checks to his bill.
On the other hand, the NRA continues to oppose the gun-sale provision, and is hoping that supporters of gun-owners rights kill that provision once it reaches the floor.
In the Senate, a stronger bill, sponsored by Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, is awaiting action in the Senate Rules Committee.