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House committee OKs legalizing gun suppressors – but Dayton, DFLers a tough sell

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Minnesota House lawmakers are pushing to legalize gun suppressors in the state and have taken a step forward in making it happen. But, it's unlikely to get much further.

The House Public Safety Committee voted Thursday to approve a bill that would let Minnesota gun owners buy and use suppression devices – often referred to as silencers in pop culture – the Session Daily says.

There was at least one audible "no" during the voice vote. There are 17 members on the committee – 10 are Republican, the other seven are DFL.

The bill (which you can read in full here) will go before the full Republican-controlled House for a vote.

But even if it passes there, the path to becoming law isn't a clear one. Gov. Mark Dayton said he isn't interested in changing the state's gun laws, the Associated Press reports, and the Democrat-controlled Senate is seemingly similarly against loosening those regulations.

Arguments for and against

Those for their legalization say suppressors aren't used in real life the way they're portrayed in movies and TV – as a silent tool for spies and assassins to quietly kill people.

Rather, it's about avoiding damage to a gun user's ears.

Protect Minnesota, a gun control advocacy group, invited people to attend Thursday in opposition of the bill, with the organization saying suppressors are "designed to let people commit murder and get away with it."

But the so-called silencers aren't really even silent at all, Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore, explained, according to the Session Daily.

"What they do is reduce the noise from a rifle or a pistol from instantly damaging to just really, really loud,” he said.

Andrew Rothman, the president of Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, claimed that typically a rifle with a suppressor attached is still about eight times louder than a jackhammer, the Session Daily reports.

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association wrote a letter to Rep. Tony Cornish expressing concern, saying the suppressors would make ShotSpotter technology "useless." But according to FOX 9, Cornish said he spoke with a sergeant who said the technology has trouble with low volume weapons already, and should work fine as long as the sound profile is put into the device's database.

The companion bill in the Senate (basically, that chamber's version of the same proposal) is still in a committee. Suppressors are currently legal in 39 other states.

More gun measures approved

The House committee approved two additional gun-related measures Thursday.

One would loosen restrictions on carrying firearms into the Capitol. Currently, a permit owner must notify the state before bringing a gun onto Capitol grounds. The bill would nix that requirement.

The other clarifies Minnesotans' ability to sell and purchase firearms in other states.

Both were approved by the committee and should go to the House floor.

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