Gun bill debate lasts until midnight, will continue Thursday

There was a huge crowd in attendance, many of whom wanted to speak.
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The debate over two proposed gun safety bills will continue into a second day after a late-night hearing at the capitol.

The Minnesota House Public Safety Committee on Wednesday met to discuss the proposed "Red Flag" gun safety law that would allow police or family members to request that guns be confiscated from individuals who pose a risk to themselves and others, as well as the introduction of universal criminal background checks.

The background checks bill was passed by the committee by a vote of 9-7 and will now go to the House Judiciary Committee.

But there wasn't enough time for a discussion and vote on the Red Flag bill, which will be taken up today instead after the hearing lasted until midnight.

Several hundred members of the public turned up for the hearing, with a mixture of supporters of the gun safety bills, and supporters of 2nd Amendment rights.

Those backing the gun bills included the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, which applauded the committee's decision to pass the background checks proposal.

"Lawmakers are listening to Minnesota law enforcement, and they’re listening to the public," said chapter leader Erin Zamoff.

Those affected by gun crime were among those who spoke at Wednesday's hearing, among them Bunny Beeks, the daughter of Birdell Beeks, who was killed by a random bullet shot by a convicted felon in 2016.

Beeks told the hearing: "This bill is not about taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens. It's about protecting Minnesotans from individuals who should not have the right to purchase or carry firearms."

Members and supporters of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus were also in attendance at the meeting, with the Star Tribune reporting there was a "polite tone" throughout despite the emotions on both sides of the debate.

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Among those speaking against the background checks bill was Rep. Jim Nash (R–Waconia) who claimed that a background check wouldn't stop someone who was intent on committing a crime.

Whatever happens with the bills in the House, it remains unlikely that any gun safety bills would pass the Minnesota Senate, which is controlled by the GOP.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has previously stated his opposition to universal background checks and Red Flag laws, though in doing so the Republican Party risks alienating the grassroots movement led predominantly by women and Minnesota youth who are calling for gun control measures.

You can watch the full hearing below.

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