Minnesota House Democrats passed a pair of high-profile gun restrictions early Tuesday, forcing the issue into end-of-session budget negotiations with Senate Republicans who have vowed to block the changes.
Lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled House began debating the changes Monday evening as part of a broader legislative package on public safety spending. That package passed on a 70-64 vote early Tuesday, with five Democrats voting against it.
The bill includes provisions to expand background checks and to establish “red flag” protection orders allowing judges to remove firearms from people who demonstrate a threat to themselves or others.
The Senate’s version of the spending plan does not include changes to the state’s gun laws. Senate GOP Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, has previously said his chamber would hold committee votes on the gun measures only if House Democrats passed the proposals as stand-alone bills.
The Nisswa Republican underscored that stance Monday.
“I don’t want to waste more time on that. It’s not going to be in our judiciary bills; we have virtually no policy in our judiciary bills,” Gazelka said. “We’re just not going to do it. The bills are dead.”
Supporters of the changes rallied at the Capitol ahead of the vote Monday.
Democratic Gov Tim Walz, who addressed the crowd, said he thinks eventual passage is “still likely because it’s what the public wants.” He noted that proposals similar to the red-flag provision have won support of GOP lawmakers in other states, including Arizona and Florida.
“We’re coming on the heels of another shooting,” he said, referring to Saturday’s deadly attack at a synagogue outside of San Diego. “I think there’s every reason to believe we can get at least that done as a minimum. So I’m still hopeful.”