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October 23, 2014

Gun control debate lands in Minnesota Senate

The contentious debate over gun control comes to the Minnesota Senate as the Senate Judiciary Committee convenes hearings on Thursday and Friday, MPR reports.

On Thursday, the panel will consider a measure that would require all gun sales to go through licensed dealers, as well as legislation that aims to restrict people with mental illnesses from obtaining firearms. Another measure would toughen penalties for “straw buyers” – people who purchase guns for others who are not allowed to own them.

Lawmakers will also consider legislation that allows some retired peace officers to carry guns without a permit.

The hearings will not include discussion of the most controversial proposals: a ban on assault-sytle weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, MPR reports. Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Ron Latz said those proposals are best handled at the federal level, KSTP reported.

The hearings follow lively, high-profile hearings in the Minnesota House earlier this month.

The National Rifle Association has urged gun rights advocates to pack the hearing room.

Supporters of stricter firearms controls rallied in the Capitol rotunda on Monday, calling on lawmakers to take steps to reduce gun violence.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are scheduled to start at noon Thursday. Seating will be limited to those who have tickets, the Pioneer Press reports. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to those in line outside Capitol Room 15, the newspaper reports.

Overflow seating will be available. Public testimony will be taken from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, the Pioneer Press says.