St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - There was more passionate testimony in St. Paul Wednesday as a series of House hearings continued to grapple with gun control laws.
The Public Safety Committee heard a number of people speak for and against a proposed bill banning assault weapons during a two hour period.
Former Minneapolis Police Chief, Tim Dolan, testified in favor of the bill, saying an assault weapon in the hands of a suspect gives them a major advantage over police due to their accuracy and how lethal they can be.
"Assault weapons are military weapons. They are weapons of war," the former chief said. "Police only have them today because they assailants are facing are armed with them in increasing numbers. They should not be in the hands of citizens."
A member of the National Rifle Association countered, calling the bill un-American.
"This firearm ban. It's failed policy," said Chris Rager. "It's been tried before. I think a lot of folks in this room legislators, Minnesotans, they want to work on real solutions."
The bill, similar to a federal law that expired in 2004, is sparking criticism over 2nd Amendment rights from opponents like Tim Jezierski of Two Harbors.
"It's not law enforcement's job to protect each one of us," Jezierski said. "It's our right under the constitution to protect ourselves through the second amendment and the use of these guns."
The bill's author, Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) countered that claim.
"It's not a right to keep or carry a weapon, whatsoever," the Representative testified.
Recent shooting tragedies across the US sparked the gun debate at the Capitol. However, Wednesday's hearing looked back at the 2005 Red Lake High school shooting and one gun in particular.
"I arrived 30 minutes after the shooting. I received a call that a Columbine had happened at Red Lake," former FBI agent John Egelhof recalled.
Egelhof, an NRA Member and former FBI agent, was the first FBI personnel on scene of the 2005 massacre that left seven people dead.
Egelhof says there's no telling what would have happened had the shooter obtained a semi automatic gun, like the AR 15, at the center of Wednesday's hearing.
"If that weapon had made it into Red Lake High School, there is no measure of what kind of carnage that would have created," Egelhof said.
Rep. Tony Cornish, an outspoken opponent of gun control laws, says there's no reason to ban the AR 15.
"It's used for prairie dog hunting, Coyote hunting, legal for big game, they're all over the woods," the representative said. "People use them all the time."
Five more gun control bills will be heard Thursday.
The House is expected to vote on a combined bill later this month.