The Good Gun Bill

After a month of barbering and nattering about dim-bulb gun-grab bills, there’s a chance at returning to sanity at hand.

Over the noon hour, Representative Deb Hillstrom – a DFLer from Brooklyn Park and a prosecutor by trade – introduced a new bill.  And this bill has the potential – unlike all of Hausman, Paymar and Simonson’s vacuous, time-wasting, copied-and-pasted twaddle – to actually do some good.

Hillstrom’s bill treats law-abiding citizens like law-abiding citizens, and punishes criminals for committing crimes.  

It’s been submitted three times – onetwo and three – although all three are identical.  This, according to a second-hand source, is a way to get around the maximum number of authors.

To summarize; the bill:

  • Facilitates the reporting of criminal and mental health commitment data to the national NICS database (more or less as Tony Cornish’s “Stand Your Ground” bill would have done before Governor Messinger Dayton vetoed it last year.  The bill also cleans up the time lag in Minnesota’s reporting of such data.
  • Creates a mandatory sentence enhancement for violent felons.  Many cities in Minnesota have similar laws; Saint Paul has one (although Susan Gaertner pretty much always used it as plea-bargain fodder when she was County Attorney).  This would provide a five year sentence for violent felons in possession of firearms; for a second and subsequent offenses, the sentence would be 10 or 15 years, respectively.
  • Makes false reporting of a gun theft a gross misdemeanor.
  • Establishes categories of people ineligible to possess pistols or “assault weapons” (and, except for kids under 18, any firearm at all), including people with records of juvenile delinquency (including those who’ve been shunted into pre-trial diversion programs for violent crimes), those who’ve been committed for mental illness or drug abuse, people with regular or gross misdemeanors in the previous three years (including gang crimes, hate crimes, building zip guns, stalking, fourth-degree burglary or rioting), cops with substance abuse issues, people with domestic assaults in the previous three years (or domestic assaults with firearms, ever).
  • A five year mandatory sentencing enhancement for using a pistol or “assault weapon” in a felony (with 10 and 15 years for repeat offenders).

The bill also provides a due process for people who’ve been civilly committed to get their firearm rights back.

The bill is a huge step in the right direction; it actually punishes criminals, rather than law-abiding citizens (as Paymar, Simonson and Hausman’s bills do).

Rep. Hillstrom – a metro DFLer – is to be complimented for introducing it.

Of course, it needs to get through committee.  The members of the Public Safety Finance Committee (names and numbers are below the jump) need to get flooded with phone calls supporting the Hillstrom bill.

No, I mean flooded.  And get your representatives, too, whatever side they’re on.

Committee members below the jump.

Representative Michael Paymar (DFL) – Chairman
You can suggest that Rep. Paymar simply scrap his bill and sign on to the alternate bill.


Representative Paul Rosenthal (DFL) – Vice Chairman



Rep. Rosenthal authored HF294, which would gut the civil rights protections of Minnesota’s Permit to Carry Law by allowing sheriffs to deny permits on the weakest of grounds. Tell him he should be working to punish criminals, not law-abiding citizens.


Representative Tony Cornish (R) – Republican Lead



Give Rep. Cornish a big THANK YOU for his strong support of your rights!


 Representative Debra Hilstrom (DFL)



Thank Rep. Hilstrom for her strong rejection of registration schemes, as well as magazine and rifle bans, and thank her for supporting the alternate bill. (One newspaper has reported that she will be the alternate bill’s chief author!)


 Representative Brian Johnson (R)



Rep. Johnson is new at the legislature this year, and will be under a lot of pressure to cave to gun control. Tell him to stand firm for our rights.


 Representative Tim Kelly (R)



Thank Rep. Kelly for his consistent votes for gun rights.


Representative Andrea Kieffer (R)



Rep. Kieffer has been a strong voice in the fight for your rights, and deserves your thanks.


 Representative John Lesch (DFL)


Remind Rep. Lesch that “equal protection” means just that — city folks have the same civil rights as country folks.


 Representative Kathy Lohmer (R)


Please thank Rep. Lohmer for her strong support of your rights!


 Representative Joe Mullery (DFL)



Rep. Mullery has been an opponent of gun rights for a long time. Remind him that if we work together, we can improve mental health and conviction reporting, and make our existing laws work better.


 Representative Jim Newberger (R)



Rep. Newberger is a strong supporter of your gun rights. Thank him for staying strong.


Representative Shannon Savick (DFL)



Rep. Savick is a rural DFLer who needs to be reminded that her constituents will not tolerate new gun control.


 Representative Dan Schoen (DFL)



Remind Rep. Schoen that as a police officer, he knows who the real bad guys are: they’re not the law-abiding Minnesota gun owners, and they won’t follow new gun control laws any more than they follow the existing ones.


Representative Steve Simon (DFL)



Rep. Simon is a smart, principled lawyer: he knows that the Supreme Court has affirmed the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right. He also knows that stripping due processdoesn’t make us more free or more safe. But you can remind him anyway!


Representative Erik Simonson (DFL)



Rep. Simonson is a new representative. Remind him that gun control is DFL Kryptonite: it has cost the House its DFL majority before, and it will again.


Representative Linda Slocum (DFL)



Representative Slocum is a co-author on several gun control bills this session.  Tell her that focusing on the bad guys, not law-abiding gun owners, is the place to start.


Representative Mark Uglem (R)



Remind Rep. Uglem that the Second Amendment is not about hunting – it is a fundamental human, civil and Constitutional right, worthy of the strongest protection.


Representative John Ward (DFL)


Thank Rep. Ward for his past support of your gun rights and encourage him to continue to do so.


15 thoughts on “The Good Gun Bill

  1. If I read this one correctly (anyone please correct me if I am wrong, because often reading these bills is like reading a different language) it has the potential to preclude the law-abiding that enters into drug or alcohol treatment.

    If so, I have a serious problem with it. Drug and alcohol problems and addictions do not, by default, make any given person violent or even incapable of proper and safe use of a firearm as their right under the Second Amendment. There are many reponsible people that enter into treatment programs…similarily there are many addicted people, even violent drunks out there who never enter into treatment programs and whose actions may not result in criminal actions against them.

    Again, this serves to assume, often erroneously and without due process…the possibility that a law-abiding citizen “may” have the potential for a reason to deny their rights, even when they have displayed no reason to make that assumption.

  2. Look on the bright side – it will make sure Gov’s weapons will be confiscated, although he is doing more damage with his pen.

  3. Adrian,
    The following is copied from the current Minnesota application to purchase a handgun (or assault weapon). This excerpt is the portion which deals with drugs/ chemical dependancy and treatments for same. You can easily review the entire document on-line. I’d suggest that because like you, I have difficulty framing this stuff in an understandable language.

    However, as I read these, they deal with in-patient programs which resulted from a court order or committment. Both would, by my reckoning, be treatments of an involuntary nature. I don’t think that they would apply to a voluntary program. Unless, of course, they decide to make this part more strict. Wouldn’t surprise me.

    Here it is:

    “Must not be an unlawful user of any controlled substance as defined in Chapter 152 of Minnesota Statutes.

    Must not be a person who is or has ever been committed by a judicial determination for treatment for the habitual use of a controlled substance or marijuana, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, §§ 152.01 and 152.02, unless the person’s ability to possess a firearm has been restored under Minnesota Statutes, §624.713, subdivision 4 and must not have been convicted in Minnesota or elsewhere of a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor violation of Chapter152 of Minnesota Statutes, unless three years have elapsed since the date of conviction and, during that time, the person has not been convicted of any other such violation of Chapter 152 of Minnesota Statutes or a similar law of another state.

    Must not have been committed to a treatment facility in Minnesota or elsewhere as chemically dependent, unless you have completed treatment or your civil rights to possess a firearm have been restored.

    Must not have been judicially committed to a treatment facility in Minnesota or elsewhere as “mentally ill,” “developmentally disabled” or “mentally defective,” or “mentally ill and dangerous to the public.” ”

    I agree that voluntary participation in mental health or chemical dependancy treatment programs doesn’t make one more of a threat to society. In many cases it’s quite the contrary (in my opinion).

    Of course we’re applying logic to an emotional partisan issue. Next thing you know, we’ll be in agreement that smokers are decent human beings, or that a happily married guy who pled-out to a non-violent fifth-degree domestic abuse charge 40 years ago involving his current wife should be allowed to keep grandpa’s Luger pistol.

    I will be quite interested in the professional psychological industries’ response to additional chem-dep personal information disclosure. Of course, the person applying for the purchase permit has to sign a waiver.

    However, would the Minnesota Psychiatric Association (MPA) consider a waiver a person “has to” sign to be truly and ethically voluntary? Should they?

    The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has often dealt with this issue. However, the APA has dealt with this as it related to the incarcerated who are offered “voluntary” treatment in lieu of further incarceration.

    I doubt if either group would lose sleep over “gun owners.” Still, they’ll have to consider it. Their codes of ethics are quite stringent on the matter.

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  6. Adrian, public, legal, adversarial court commitments are already a disqualifier.

    All this bill does is make the record-keeping better, and properly disqualify people are committed but ask the court to allow them to go into a private, insurance-paid treatment program.

    Voluntary treatment programs, and all other private medical data, are not a part of this bill.

  7. Thanks for the corrections. Now as long as this doesn’t got the way of the…”Oh, the seat belt law will NEVER become a primary offense…trust us…”

  8. I am still concerned that much of what some would consider to be relevant mental health data is anecdotal. The local character who everyone knows hasn’t been right since childhood might not generate any official paperwork which would be revealed during a background check.

    It’s not illegal to be crazy and like crime, is not actionable by those with the power to take action until a drastic event transpires. Much like deadly force laws, the “harmful to self and others” requirement is not as easy to define as it sounds.

    Many will agree that the tinfoil hatted, unwashed, public mumbler should not be granted a gun permit. However, she/he could be like this for years and still come up as clean as anyone on a background check.

    Soccer moms everywhere would agree that this is where local authorities should be able to use this type of “everybody knows” information as grounds for permit disqualification. And at first glance, so do I. The same holds true for the local dirtbag who the same “everybody” knows is nothing but trouble, but has no disqualifying convictions to go with all those arrests.

    However, do you think that the pet police chiefs in Minneapolis and Saint Paul would use this discretion the same way that (former) Chief Tony Cornish would?

    This is an area that I hope receives bi-partisan attention as we address the background check issue. If there ever was a double-edged sword, this is it.

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