MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A showdown of gun rights supporters and gun control advocates unfolded in Hibbing today. It’s a preview of what will certainly be a series of ongoing debates in the Minnesota legislature

Among the proposals — gun rights supporters want a law to allow carrying a weapon without a permit, and broader use of a gun in self defense.

The passion on both sides has been clear in past legislative sessions. At a packed Senate hearing in Hibbing, Senator Ron Latz, a leading gun control advocate, again offered up proposal for expanded background checks

“This bill closes the gap through which up to 40% of gun sales go,” Senator Latz said.

But gun rights supporters say expanded background checks will only hurt law abiding gun owners.

“The background check creates a de-facto registry of gun owners. It requires gun owners to get a permit to engage in a transfer in this state,” Rob Doar of the MN Gun Owners Caucus said.

Gun owners who have made their voices heard at the Capitol are going on the offensive, proposing bills to expand the right to carry a gun and to use one in self-defense. They say bringing this hearing to Hibbing helps because inside the metro their views are often ignored.

“They definitely feel like the metro area dominates in the news and in the types of legislation that’s being pushed,” Doar said.

But gun control supporters in outstate Minnesota say they are the ones who are ignored.

“People who want these gun laws, people who want these bills are, and we will not rest until our lawmakers are ready to do what is needed to be done to keep our state safer,” Sarah Mikesell of the Duluth chapter of MN Moms Demand Action said.

There was no vote at the end of the Hibbing hearing , but both sides laid out their positions; positions you will hear throughout the upcoming legislative session. And with the Minnesota House being controlled by Democrats, the Senate by Republicans, it will be difficult for proposals on either side to succeed.

The Minnesota Legislative session gets underway February 11th.

Esme Murphy