MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is among the most lenient states in restoring gun rights to convicted felons, but one state lawmaker says that practice is too risky.
“What’s wrong with that is that they have already committed crimes with a weapon,” said Sen. Barb Goodwin, a Democrat representing District 50.
She wants a lifetime ban on firearms for violent criminals. The only way for them to get their rights restored would be to appeal to the State Board of Pardons.
“Once they are familiar with weapons — and they’ve used weapons in a crime — we shouldn’t take a chance,” Goodwin said. “They should get all their other rights restored…as soon as they are released, but not firearms.”
The firearms change is the first to be introduced this Legislative session after the Connecticut school massacre. Others might include universal background checks, arming teachers in schools, a ban on assault weapons, and a ban on high capacity clips.
The ban on firearms for felons is already getting push back.
“My grandpa served time in Stillwater State Prison,” said longtime gun rights advocate Rep. Tony Cornish, who represents District 24B.
He says his grandfather went to prison for 18 months during The Great Depression over a land deal worth $44.
“Not being able to hunt, it would have drove him crazy, and probably [would have] made him more likely to go off the edge, because it meant so much to him,” Cornish said.
Goodwin, the lawmaker who wants the lifetime ban, says other states are much stricter than Minnesota, and that the lifetime ban should include hunting weapons.
“It’s too big a chance for society,” she said.
The firearms ban for felons would not only be restricted to crimes committed with guns, but other violent crimes like rape, she said.
But are there cases of felons getting firearms and committing more violent crimes?
Goodwin cites two cases, one in Hennepin County and one in Wright County.
Cornish says those cases are rare. But like many other statistics involving guns, there’s no once place that keeps track of it.