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House gun bill leaves out assault weapons ban

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After three days of hearings on gun control that drew hundreds of people earlier this month, a gun violence prevention bill was unveiled Thursday without a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul and chairman of the Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee, says he wants to focus on keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them, the Pioneer Press reports.

The bill expands background checks for prospective buyers and closes the so-called gun show loophole, Politics in Minnesota says. It also calls for stiffer penalties for those who sell to unqualified people and helps attorneys crack down on illegal gun owners.

The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association supports the legislation and appeared with Paymar at a news conference Thursday. Expanding background checks was their top priority.

The Pioneer Press says guns are far from a party-line issue in the state. Many rural democrats are reluctant to support legislation that might appear to infringe on gun rights.

The National Rifle Association opposes universal background checks. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre says the measure is one step towards taking away guns, CNN reports.

"This so-called universal background check that you're hearing about all over the media ... is aimed at one thing: It's aimed at registering your guns," LaPierre claimed. "And when another tragic opportunity presents itself, that registry will be used to confiscate your guns."

NRA has plenty of clout in the state which is exactly who the gun group is relying on to thwart gun-control legislation.

Republicans say that Paymar's bill won't have the votes to become law, according to the Associated Press.

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