DFL Lawmaker Takes Aim at Body Armor in Ongoing Gun Talks

By KBJR News 1

February 7, 2013 Updated Feb 7, 2013 at 6:36 PM CST

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A Duluth DFL Representative says he wants to take a different approach in the ongoing efforts to beef up gun control in Minnesota.

His proposal doesn't involve guns.

Representative Erik Simonson introduced his bill during the third and final day of a gun control hearing of the Public Safety Committee.

Rep. Simonson's bill, one of a dozen introduced this week, would require a permit to buy or use body armor. It would also increase penalties for felons who are in possession of armor, like bullet proof vests.

The bill says the permit would cost up to $100 and include a criminal background check.

That permit would expire after five years and would have to be filed with Police.

Representative Simonson told the committee that body armor is designed to protect and should be reserved for members of the military and law enforcement.

He says it shouldn't fall into the wrong hands.

"Body armor can embolden criminals to take greater risks than they might without it," Simonson said. "This could lead to an increase in the number of innocent citizens who are either direct or indirect victims of violent crimes."

Outspoken gun control opponent, Representative Tony Cornish (R - Good Thunder), who owns three bullet proof vests, says it wouldn't be right to subject victims of domestic violence to background checks and permit fees to protect themselves.

He says the bill is "a little outrageous."

Rep. Simonson says his bill sparked good discussion, but believes it won't pass in its current form.

If anything, he says, it will make way for stiffer penalties for felons caught using body armor while committing another crime.

Kevin Jacobsen
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