With Democrats in complete control of the Minnesota legislature for the first time in several years, Gov. Tim Walz has laid out an ambitious agenda of Second Amendment infringements for lawmakers this session, including a ban on “large capacity” magazines, establishing a “red flag” firearm seizure law, raising the age to purchase modern sporting rifles from 18 to 21, and imposing “universal” background checks on all private transfers in the state.
Walz included his anti-civil rights wish list as part of his budget unveiling this week, but used the Monterey Park shootings in California as justification for criminalizing common aspects of the right to keep and bear arms.
House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, said the governor’s public safety proposal Monday “comes up dramatically short.”
“We need to be focused on getting dangerous criminals off the streets and making sure we are investing adequately in local law enforcement so they have the tools they need to investigate and prevent crimes,” Demuth said in a statement.
Democrats, who now control both the House and Senate, are introducing their own public safety efforts. Two gun control measures were among the first bills introduced this year. The bills would expand criminal background checks for gun transfers and allow law enforcement to temporarily take away someone’s firearms.
The governor is pushing for those two measures and other efforts, such as making 21 the minimum age to buy military-style firearms and prohibiting high-capacity magazines. Walz expressed a renewed urgency for the gun control measures following the mass shooting at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club this past weekend.
“When a country has the number of guns and the access to them like we do … the number of shootings are disproportionately higher here,” Walz said. “We’re going to finally tackle this issue around some common-sense gun [laws].”
While Walz calls these measures “common sense”, the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus has another term for the governor’s anti-gun agenda: unconstitutional.
“Today, Governor Walz unveiled his California-style gun control agenda which has failed to prevent gun violence wherever it is enacted, instead infringing upon the rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Rob Doar. “California, the scene of the tragic mass shooting Walz mentioned in his speech, already has every type of gun control legislation you could dream of including magazine capacity bans, assault weapons bans, and red flag laws, all of which failed to prevent the horrific scene that unfolded this week. Gun owners in Minnesota must be prepared to fight this ineffective and unconstitutional legislation.”
“A prohibition on 18–20-year-old adults purchasing firearms for self-defense and a standard capacity magazine ban are clearly unconstitutional under the standard set in the Bruen decision,” said Bryan Strawser, Chairman, Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. “This proposed gun control legislation would infringe on the constitutional rights of Minnesotans while failing to prevent gun violence. Minnesota should focus on other commonsense means to address the acts of criminals while preserving the constitutional rights of law-abiding Minnesotans.”
On Twitter, the group highlighted a recent court decision allowing a man sentenced to 25 years in prison to instead be placed on juvenile probation for the next two years and wondered why the governor is ignoring cases like this while going after the state’s responsible gun owners.
— MN Gun Owners Caucus (@mnguncaucus) January 24, 2023
If Walz gets his way Minnesota gun owners caught possessing a “large capacity” magazine could end up doing more time behind bars than a guy who was held partly responsible by the criminal justice system for the deaths of two individuals.
How much of the governor’s anti-gun agenda actually gets to his desk for his signature is still an open question, however. While Democrats have control over both legislative chambers, their margins are slim (just one vote in the state Senate) and there are a few rural Dems who represent parts of the state where infringing on the right to keep and bear arms is a wildly unpopular idea. Minnesota 2A activists will be gathering at the statehouse for Lobby Day this Thursday to talk with their own senators and state reps, and every gun owner in the state who cares about protecting the public and the fundamental right to armed self-defense should try to attend if they can. If not, send them an email or call up their office to encourage them to go after criminals instead of responsible gun owners. I can’t guarantee they’ll listen, but we still need to speak out.