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As backers of gun control rally, Senate narrows hearings

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Hundreds of supporters of stricter controls on gun ownership in Minnesota rallied at the State Capitol Monday. But on the same day, the chairman of a Senate committee said hearings this week will not take up proposals to ban assault rifles or high-capacity magazines.

The rally in the Capitol rotunda called on lawmakers to take steps to reduce gun violence.

Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) says the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that begin Thursday will focus on strengthening background checks designed to prevent felons from purchasing guns. Latz says there's a consensus on using that as a starting point to attack the problem of gun violence.

He says proposals to ban assault rifles or high-capacity ammunition magazines will not be part of the committee's hearings, calling those more divisive and suggesting they're better suited for the federal government than for the states.

Those bans were part of the discussion when a House committee held hearings on gun legislation earlier this month. Attendance at those hearings overflowed hearing rooms and a similar crowd is expected on Thursday. The Pioneer Press reports a ticketing system will be used for those who are not scheduled to testify.

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