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Republican lawmakers shoot down 2 gun safety measures

One DFL lawmaker called it 'deeply disappointing.'

Two gun safety proposals – background checks for private sales and a "red flag" policy – were shot down Tuesday in the Minnesota Legislature, with all five Republicans voting against the measures and all five DFL lawmakers voting in favor.

The two proposals were included in a public safety bill passed by the DFL-controlled House last month.

One measure would have required criminal background checks on more firearm purchases, with DFL supporters arguing this will close loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to buy guns online or at shows.

The other is a 'red flag" law," and would have allowed authorities to temporarily take firearms away from people considered a danger to themselves or others. Fifteen states have this type of law in the books.

These proposals, however, were not in the Republican-controlled Senate's version of the public safety bill. So it went to a conference committee to reach a compromise that would pass both chambers.

It was in this conference committee that the inclusion of the gun safety measures failed on a 5-5 vote Tuesday.

"Minnesotans are demanding that we do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, but this session Republicans have opposed every effort to do that,” said DFL Rep. Dave Pinto in a statement. He wrote the criminal background check bill, and called the opposition "deeply disappointing."

Republican Sen. Andrew Lang, one of the "no" votes, said he would "not compromise the Constitutional rights" of his constituents. Republican Rep. Nick Zerwas called the measures "extreme," arguing they won't pass and it's time to move on.

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An estimated 90 percent of Minnesotans favor criminal background checks on all gun sales in the U.S., a 2018 Star Tribune poll found, including private sales and those done at gun shows. City Pages recently noted 14 states currently require background checks on all gun sales (Minnesota is not one of them).

Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie, speaking on behalf of a law enforcement coalition, expressed support for both measures Tuesday, MPR reported.

The proposals could be revived at some point in the future, Kevin Featherly of minnlawyer.com noted. For this Legislative session however, they are all but dead.

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