MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota House of Representatives opened hearings Wednesday on two controversial gun bills that drew hundreds of people to the State Capitol. And shortly after noon, the committee advanced the bills.

They include one to allow Minnesota gun owners to carry their weapons in public without getting a permit, and another to expand the “Stand Your Ground” law.

Hundreds of thousands of legal gun owners already have a permit to carry their weapons in public, and supporters say the 14-year-old law hasn’t made Minnesota the “Wild West.”

“There was rhetoric that blood would be running in the streets, and there would be a shootout over parking spaces,” Rob Doar, of the Gun Owners Caucus, said. “We’ve been down this road before, and the sky hasn’t fallen.”

The new law would allow gun owners to legally carry weapons in public without a permit. It generated emotional testimony, including from Richfield Lutheran Church pastor Rev. Rolf Olson, whose daughter was murdered answering a Craigslist ad.

“People who couldn’t pass a criminal background check and have never learned how to handle a gun safely would be able to carry one in public,” Olson said. “How would that protect public safety?”

At least two lawmakers at the hearing carried handguns themselves, including the chair of the Public Safety Committee Rep. Tony Cornish, who openly wore a 40-caliber Glock.

Others wore message t-shirts, buttons and lapel pins. The committee also heard a second bill relaxing the state’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, removing the requirement to retreat before using deadly force.

“I believe firmly that self-defense is a human right,” Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) said. He authored both gun bills. “It doesn’t know anything about color, it doesn’t know anything about geography. We each have an individual right to defend ourselves. ”

Critics say the more lenient “Stand Your Ground” bill being considered in Minnesota is modeled after a Florida law made famous in the Trayvon Martin case, calling it a “Fear of Black People” law.

Shauntyll Allen, of Black Lives Matter St. Paul, wore a black baseball cap and a black sweatshirt with a hoodie, flipping it on to her heard while giving testimony.

“I’m a 43 year old educator, and when I put this hood up, I am feared,” Allen said.

Many who testified against the measures had a personal connection to the issue, having lost a loved one to gun violence.

The Department of Public Safety reports that more than 71,000 Minnesotans got permits in 2016, a record.

The Department reports nearly 266,000 Minnesotans now have permits to carry a handgun in public. That’s also a record.

Shortly after noon, the Minnesota House Committee advanced the bills.

Gov. Dayton has not said publicly whether or not he would sign these bills if they were passed by the legislature.

Comments (7)
  1. Dustin Doyle says:

    http://www.shotinthedark.info/wp/?p=62378 The sort of people Moms Demand Action – MN sent to attack us. The troll was hugging the anti-gun side’s leaders before he left the building.

  2. bikerr123 says:

    This Bill’s time has come.Pass it and let’s keep criminals on notice.Passing it will save Police time looking for a body,the gun carrier will show them were the criminals body is.

  3. John Ploetz says:

    It’s my understanding the committee didn’t vote on the bills. They didn’t move forward. Vote was tabled until a later date. This article is incorrect?

  4. Why did you mention the guns that Cornish and others wore but not the dozens of orange shirts worn in opposition to this and other gun legislation?

  5. Todd Libra says:

    So, the gentleman that was telling the tragic story about his daughter, failed to tell us if the person that murdered his daughter was a legal gun permit holder?

  6. Jose Ortega says:

    The law is designed to deter the criminal element may they be white, black, latino, or asian. The criminal element has to know that their intended victim could be armed and ready to shoot.them dead.