DFL leader not interested in banning semi-automatic rifles or high-capacity ammo clips

Unless the federal government intervenes, it appears guns of this sort will remain legal in Minnesota for the time being.
Unless the federal government intervenes, it appears guns of this sort will remain legal in Minnesota for the time being.

During three days of House hearings on possible gun control measures earlier this month, representatives kicked around the idea of banning semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity ammo clips.

-- Pine County Sheriff's refusal to enforce new gun regulations has at least one legislative supporter
-- Obama in Mpls: "Law enforcement officers should never be outgunned on the streets"

But yesterday, the chair of the gun control hearings happening in the Senate this week -- Sen. Ron Latz, D-St. Louis Park -- said he's not interested in discussing legislation that would make certain guns or types of ammunition illegal in Minnesota.

"I want to focus on what we can accomplish this year," Latz said, according to a Pioneer Press report. "Assault weapons bans and high-capacity magazine restrictions are much more divisive and frankly I think they're must better suited to be dealt with at the federal level."

Latz said he wants to focus instead on tightening mandatory background checks for those trying to purchase guns.

"Law enforcement does have broad consensus in favor of universal background checks, closing loopholes in existing statutes," Latz added, according to the Star Tribune. "I want to focus on what has broad public support."

Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder and arguably the Legislature's staunchest gun rights advocate, said he isn't surprised by Latz's stance.

"We always suspected this was the strategy from the minute this started, " Cornish said, according to the Strib. "I don't think [the DFL] thought they had the votes."

Cornish is opposed to universal background checks for gun buyers. He's worried they could lead to the creation of a gun-owner registry that would make it relatively easy for the government to confiscate guns in the event Congress does eventually ban certain types of firearms.

As we blogged about last week, it's unclear how many lives a ban on semi-automatic rifles would save here in Minnesota in the first place. In 2011 -- the last year for which numbers are available -- only three Minnesotans were murdered with a rifle of any type. By comparison, four died in fist fights. Twelve were killed by knives and 51 by handguns.

Gun shop owners have reported that in the wake of Obama's post-Newtown pro-gun control speech, there's been a "feeding frenzy" for military-style weapons.

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