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Minnesota House passes gun background check, 'red flag' bills

The bills face a tougher time getting through the Senate.

The Minnesota House took action on firearms Thursday evening, passing two bills that advocates say could improve safety and accountability.

The House passed bills relating to background checks on private sales, as well as passing "red flag" laws that gives law enforcement the ability to confiscate weapons from those believed to be of risk to themselves and others.

Both bills passed with votes mostly along party lines, with a few Democrats voting against both.

The background check bill would require the private transfers of pistols and semiautomatic, military-style assault weapons to be preceded by a background check of the person buying or receiving the gun, to ensure they are legally eligible to own a gun.

The law also requires those involved in such a transaction to keep a record of the private sale for 20 years, otherwise they're guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

The bill passed by a vote of 69-62

The so-called "red flag" bill would allow family members or police to petition a court to have guns removed from someone who poses a significant danger to themselves or others, per Session Daily.

Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights) says 17 other states have adopted such rules and have subsequently seen a reduction in suicides, homicides and mass shootings.

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But Republicans opposed the bill, raising concerns that confiscating someone's firearms without giving them the opportunity to face their accuser violates their constitutional rights.

The bills have passed just a day after a mass shooting saw six people killed, including the gunman, at the Molson Coors plant in Milwaukee.

It was reported on Thursday that the shooter, who was an avid gun collector, had been involved in a long-running dispute with a co-worker that boiled over.

Both bills face a tough task of getting through the Senate, where the Republicans have a majority.

Several counties have also recently taken votes in Minnesota to declare themselves as "Second Amendment sanctuaries," saying they would direct law enforcement not to enforce laws they deem unconstitutional, including red flag laws.

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