St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A series of Minnesota House gun hearings kicked off Tuesday in St. Paul, drawing support and opposition to stricter control laws in the wake of recent shooting tragedies across the nation.
A large crowd, spilling into an overflow room, turned out at the House Public Safety Committee's first of three days of hearings on gun bills.
The House Public Safety committee was able to get to two of eight bills Monday morning.
One of them would require that private sales of firearms be handled through a licensed dealer, which would cause the background check system to kick into gear.
A lot of gun transactions would still be off the radar, but proponents say this change would capture some of those sales that now happen at gun shows.
"You've all heard the term, closing the gun show loophole," Denny Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association said. "Well, we'd submit to you that's not a loophole, but in fact a gaping hole. We are not doing enough to protect the citizens of our state from gun violence."
"We aren't doing enough because the legislators won't let us do enough," Tony Cornish (R - Good Thunder) said. "We want to arm teachers, we want to have armed security guards, we want to put a shooter at the scene that can actually do something, legislators are saying no, and pretending these worthless gun bills are going to do any good, which they don't."
St. Paul Democrat Representative Michael Paymar plans to merge a number of gun proposals into one bill he says the full House will vote on later in February.
More testimony was expected Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Gov. Mark Dayton says any changes to gun laws will need backing from rural lawmakers to get his support.