Minnesota Democrats hoping to enact stricter gun laws no longer have a Republican majority in their way at the State Capitol.

Now in control of the governor's office and Legislature, Democrats plan to renew talks of expanding criminal background checks to cover most private firearm transfers, and of "red-flag" protective orders that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from people deemed dangerous.

Their gun control push will follow yet another year with several mass shootings — at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado, a Walmart in Virginia, a supermarket in New York, an elementary school in Texas and a July 4th parade in Illinois.

"The U.S. is an outlier when it comes to this issue. We lose many more of our residents to guns at a much higher rate than other countries," said state Rep. Dave Pinto, DFL-St. Paul, who sponsored the background check bill last year. "I feel renewed urgency, and I am hearing from community members and colleagues who feel the same way."

Republican legislators and gun rights activists are preparing to play defense on the issue.

"The overwhelming majority of guns used in the commission of a crime are obtained illegally already," said state Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia. "The universal background checks that they're advocating for are only for people who are already law-abiding citizens."

Minnesota House Democrats passed background check and red-flag measures in 2020, but Republicans who led the Senate at the time blocked the bills from going further.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said the gun bills will be a "high priority" for her caucus in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January. Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, did not say whether her caucus has enough votes to pass them, but said Senate Democrats will consider them.

Democrats' gun control ambitions will be tested by narrow majorities in both the House and Senate; they hold the Senate by just one seat. Some DFL lawmakers from greater Minnesota have historically been wary of the proposals.

"Having a DFL majority doesn't guarantee anything," said Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, who will chair the Senate's public safety committee. "The hard part has always been overcoming the inside-party battles that threaten individual legislators' ability to continue in office."

The latest background check bill introduced in the House would apply to gun transfers between private parties, requiring those purchasing to undergo a background check conducted by their local law enforcement agency. But the legislation included exceptions for transfers between immediate family members — spouses or partners, parents and children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren. It also exempted temporary transfers at shooting ranges, firearm competitions and while hunting or trapping.

The red-flag proposal would create a process in which law enforcement, family or household members could petition a court to temporarily prohibit someone from possessing a firearm if the person poses "significant danger" to the individual or others. Petitioners would have to submit an affidavit under oath detailing specific concerns and supporting evidence.

"The [petitioner] can be charged with perjury if they are lying," Pinto said. "There has to be specific facts and circumstances and evidence of various kinds, and then the court has to find that the person poses a significant danger."

Rob Doar, senior vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, has concerns about both bills. He said the expanded background checks could "create tremendous burdens for law-abiding gun owners."

As for the red-flag protective orders, Doar said the Gun Owners Caucus would oppose any version of the proposal that does not give adequate due process to the accused.

"If there was at least an adversarial process where the person who's being accused has the opportunity to defend themselves prior to their property being seized, that's at least something that we would be able to understand," he said.

Doar and Nash said they hope Democrats will consider other gun violence prevention proposals, such as stricter penalties for those who commit crimes involving guns and for straw purchasers who buy guns on behalf of people who cannot legally purchase the weapons themselves.

"I certainly know that we are willing to talk about how do we reduce gun crime if it is a comprehensive approach to reducing crime through getting criminals off the street that have been using them," Nash said.

In a recent interview, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said he supports both the red-flag law proposal and cracking down on straw purchasers.

"If we can stop one of these [shootings] with some of these things, this is not a huge inconvenience for legal gun owners to possess the firearms they need," Walz said.

The governor said he expects hearings on the red-flag proposal. Nineteen states have red-flag laws on the books, according to the Giffords Law Center.

Lawmakers can expect gun safety advocates who've packed the Capitol in recent years to show up in force during the upcoming session.

Molly Leutz, state leader of the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action, said her group will be there from the legislative session's start to end urging lawmakers to pass the background check and red-flag bills.

Gun violence prevention is as urgent now as ever, Leutz said. Some of her chapter's volunteers have children attending the University of Virginia, she said, where three students were killed and two were wounded in a November campus shooting.

"We're always just a step away … from gun violence affecting us in real time," Leutz said. "It could really happen to anybody."

Staff writer Briana Bierschbach contributed to this report.