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Tragedy has MN lawmakers focused on straw purchases for guns

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Monday, April 1, 2024   

Minnesota lawmakers return this week following an Easter break. They're expected to resume talks on a gun-safety proposal seeing renewed urgency, after the recent fatal shooting of three first responders.

The February tragedy brought renewed focus on straw purchases, where a person buys a firearm for another individual deemed ineligible to have one.

Authorities say the deceased suspect who carried out the attack used guns bought by his girlfriend.

State Rep. Kaela Berg - DFL-Burnsville - represents the city in which the shooting occurred. She's sponsored a bill that would make straw purchases a felony.

Berg recently spoke before the Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee about the plan.

"This bill," said Berg, "is one more step we can take - in addition to other actions taken by this committee - to keep our families and law enforcement safe from gun violence."

Similar legislation surfaced last year, and there are Senate versions in the current session. The idea of strengthening penalties for straw purchases has strong bipartisan support.

However, Berg's version also includes a ban on binary trigger devices, which allow a semi-automatic gun to fire at an increased rate.

Republicans argue that shouldn't be included in the plan, citing Second Amendment issues.

Committee member state Rep. Matt Grossell - R-Clearbrook - was among those questioning the inclusion of the trigger ban provision.

"To me, it mucks it up," said Grossell. "That is something to be dealt with seperately from the straw purchase. "

But Berg, a Democrat, said one of these devices was found to be used in the February attack.

It's unclear which version will be put on the fast track for final approval later this session. The House measure was laid over for possible inclusion in a larger omnibus bill.




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