MN House Member Delivers Scorching Rebuke Over Gun Storage Bill

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After hours of debate, the Minnesota House adopted a gun storage mandate on Thursday night that will require gun owners to keep their firearms unloaded and locked up unless they're under the direct physical control of an authorized user. Despite the 68-64 vote in the House, the measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Democrats have a one-seat majority and several DFL senators have been non-commital about their support for the bill. 


Before the final vote took place, State Rep. Walter Hudson delivered a scathing rebuke to supporters of the bill, wondering why the chamber had wasted so much time on a measure that isn't likely to get to the governor... especially when Minnesota already has a law on the books dealing with negligent storage of firearms. 

"It turns out we don't need it. It's completely unnecessary, on your own terms," Hudson chided his colleagues. 

"We've heard varied explanations about why this bill is needed that seem all over the map, but at root I'd say the basis of the presentation is that we want to protect kids from accessing firearms," he continued, before pointing out the existing statute dealing with negligent storage of firearms. 

"Seems relevant, especially considering the presentation of this bill tonight, and much of the debate around this bill tonight has been implying suggesting that it's the wild, wild West in Minnesota and we don't care about it. Subsection two of that chapter: a person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who negligently leaves or stores a loaded firearm in a location where the person knows or reasonably should have known that a child is likely to gain access unless reasonable action is taken to secure the firearm against access by the child." 


"Guys, we can table this nonsense right now and move on to taxes or something that actually matters," Hudson declared. "Because this problem has already been solved. It's already in state law. So again, I ask, what are we doing here?" 

Hudson's entire floor speech is worth watching in the video above. He delivered a calm, measured, but absolutely thorough takedown of the gun storage bill and how it's being used as a political prop to go after gun owners. I'm biased, of course, but I don't think the DFL lawmakers who supported the bill ever presented an effective counter to Hudson's argument. 

Supporters said the measures are aimed at preventing firearms from falling into the hands of those who can’t have them and preventing gun injuries and deaths.

“I just want fewer people to be killed by guns in our state,” the safe storage bill’s author, Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, said. “I know this bill won't prevent every single bad thing from happening, but it will prevent some of them and that is enough for me.”


I'm pretty sure that every lawmaker supports that goal of fewer firearm-involved deaths, but that doesn't mean that HF 4300 is a good way to accomplish that goal, especially when it makes it far more difficult for gun owners to access their firearms when they need to do so. 

Republicans said the storage bill could slow someone seeking out their firearm if an intruder or other threat emerged. And they said it could penalize law-abiding gun owners.

“This one-size-fits all storage provision makes me choose between protecting myself as a single woman who lives by herself, or being a law breaker,” said Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea. “We need to stop going after law abiding citizens, law abiding women and gun owners like me and start going after the criminals who are using guns to break the law.”

It would still be problematic even if the bill only applied to homes where both firearms and juveniles are present, but Bennett is right that it makes no sense whatsoever to apply this one-size-fits-all mandate to every gun owner in the state. The current statute accomplishes the same goal of preventing unauthorized access by minors, while still allowing gun owners the flexibility to decide for themselves how best to store their firearms in a way that a child can't get ahold of them. 


Hudson's colleagues should have listened to him, but the DFL wants to have something they can call a victory for their pals in the gun control lobby to crow about. Let's hope that Hudson's logic finds a more receptive audience in the Senate, which would save gun owners a ton of grief and taxpayers some money, because if this bill does become law, a court challenge is sure to follow. 

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