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‘Shoot First’ Bill Facing Opposition From MN Police Chiefs

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) – Minnesota police and prosecutors are stepping up their opposition to a bill in the Legislature that would expand people’s rights to use deadly force to defend themselves.

At the Minnesota Capitol on Thursday, DFL State Sen. John Harrington, who is former police chief of St. Paul, said the bill “will increase danger to the public and increase danger to the police.”

Opponents contend the bill will put police officers at an increased risk of being shot by gun owners who believe their safety is threatened.

The bill allows legal gun owners to use deadly force on their property if they fear their life is in danger.

Police chiefs and prosecutors said cops are at risk because they go on private property chasing bad guys or executing warrants.

“If you wake up-in the middle of the night, and you are startled by some noise in the back of your yard, does that mean you can pull your firearm and possibly engage with a police officer?” asked St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith. “Especially when it’s at night? Especially when you can’t see our badge shining so brightly? These are important questions that need to be answered.”

However, the author of the bill said opponents are engaging in “hysteria and fear-mongering.”

“All these horror stories, what might happen, never materialize,” said Rep. Tony Cornish, (R-Good Thunder), the current police chief in Lake Crystal. “It’s just a scare tactic for some reason. The chiefs are standing alone on this. The line officers aren’t with’em.”

Gov. Mark Dayton, who supports Minnesota’s conceal and carry law, said today the state’s self defense laws are strong enough.

Dayton has not said whether he’d veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

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