Senate panel's gun hearing focuses on background checks

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Gun legislation is back in the limelight at the Minnesota Capitol. But compared to the three days of hearings held by a House panel earlier this month, testimony in the Senate Thursday and Friday is shorter and more focused.

Once Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Ron Latz took proposals to ban assault rifles and high capacity magazines off the table, it cleared the way for testimony to focus on background checks.

As the Star Tribune reports, law enforcement personnel provide some of the loudest voices in support of universal background checks. Those checks are required of licensed gun dealers, but under existing law they can be avoided by purchasing firearms from unlicensed sellers in a private sale, at a gun show, or on the Internet. As one supporter of universal background checks put it, routing all sales through licensed dealers "closes the door to people who should not have a handgun."

But groups representing gun owners passionately oppose such a requirement. MPR reports a leader of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance testified that injecting a licensed dealer into every firearms purchase in the state will drive up the cost of buying a gun and erode the second amendment rights of Minnesotans.

More testimony is on the way Friday.

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