House panel to vote on background checks for gun buyers

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The House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee on Tuesday morning is likely to vote on legislation that would require background checks for nearly all gun purchases, the Associated Press reports.

A Senate panel last week approved a similar bill that would require background checks for all gun buyers, including firearms buyers at gun shows. That controversial legislation, approved on a party-line vote with Republicans opposed, also includes other measures, including stricter penalties for straw buyers – people who buy guns and sell them for a profit to criminals.

Meanwhile, a competing bill that has bipartisan support, including the backing of rural Democrats and the National Rifle Association, but which lacks the background check requirements, is still very much alive, the Pioneer Press reports.

Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, chairman of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee, has said he is working with Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, sponsor of the competing measure, to see if there is a compromise they can both agree on that includes background checks.

Paymar advocates background checks for all gun sales, including those between private buyers and sales made at gun shows, not just sales by licensed dealers.

Among those who have testified in favor of universal background checks is Heather Martens, executive director of the group Protect Minnesota, which advocates for gun control, MPR reported. She told lawmakers she recently went to a gun show and was offered an Uzi for cash, with no background check.

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