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Will House Schedule Vote to Expand Background Checks at Gun Shows?

PHOTO: It made it through committee, but a bill to require background checks by unlicensed dealers at gun shows in Minnesota has still not been scheduled for a vote on the House floor. CREDIT: M. Glasgow
PHOTO: It made it through committee, but a bill to require background checks by unlicensed dealers at gun shows in Minnesota has still not been scheduled for a vote on the House floor. CREDIT: M. Glasgow
May 1, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With advocates for gun safety pushing for a vote in the Minnesota House, a statewide outdoors and conservation group is the latest to come out in favor of universal background checks.

The Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League approved the resolution at its state convention, according to delegate Brent Gurtek of Duluth.

"It's a very general resolution that says, 'Should the state of Minnesota Izaak Walton division support background checks for most gun transfers, purchases, gifts, whatever?' And it was voted in as 'yes.'," he said.

HF 285, a bill that calls for expanding background checks at gun shows, has made it through committee but not yet been scheduled for a vote on the House floor. Opponents, including the National Rifle Association, say this legislation infringes on their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Expanding background checks would keep more guns out of the hands of criminals and those with potentially dangerous mental health conditions, said Gurtek, who makes muzzle-loading guns for a living.

"Background check is only there to prevent prohibited people," he said. "It's kind of like being carded when you go into a bar if you look underage. It's not there to stop anybody except the people that shouldn't go in, and that's what a background check is."

As it stands now, said Heather Martens, who heads the group "Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence," background checks are not required from unlicensed sellers at gun shows in the state.

"You can just go to them and buy a pistol or assault weapon without any kind of background check at all, because they're not licensed dealers," she said. "So, the law doesn't require them to do a background check."

Polling has found that a majority of Minnesotans support background checks for all gun purchases.

Information on the bill is online at revisor.mn.gov. The poll results are at startribune.com.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN