Gov. Dayton calls death of gun background checks bill "very disappointing," blasts NRA

Dayton thinks Cornish is suffering from a case of "they took 'er guns!" paranoia.
Dayton thinks Cornish is suffering from a case of "they took 'er guns!" paranoia.

Last night, a bill calling for backgrounds checks on all firearm purchases in Minnesota died in a House committee, meaning any gun control legislation approved this legislative session will be watered down at best.

SEE ALSO: MNGOP Rep. Tony Cornish says Jesus would pack heat if he were alive today

That was good news to staunch gun rights advocates like Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder -- Cornish actually wore a semi-automatic rifle pin and NRA tie to a hearing about gun violence last month -- but it came as a disappointment to gun control advocates like Gov. Mark Dayton.

Hours before the background checks proposal died, Dayton, perhaps sensing that the votes to advance the bill might not be there, unloaded on Cornish and the NRA. From MPR:

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton leveled some sharp criticism today against the National Rifle Association and its opposition to universal background checks on gun purchases.

Dayton said it would be "very disappointing" if a bill requiring background checks failed this session. He also took issue with NRA claims that such measures would infringe on Second Amendment rights and could lead to gun confiscations. Dayton told reporters that no one is going to confiscate the guns of law abiding citizens.

"It's just a total bogus, hyped up way of trying to keep their membership up," Dayton said. "It's so beyond the pale of anything anybody is considering or proposing. We don't need the NRA to be posturing around to 'protect those rights,' because they don't need to be protected. They're sanctified in the constitution and every politician I know who's elected to office -- Republican, Democrat and the like -- understand that that's a right, and no one is going to take it away."

Recent polling indicates 70 percent of Minnesotans support expanding backgrounds checks on gun purchases, but the issue is a dicey one for DFL lawmakers from rural areas who are wary of being seen an anti-gun rights.

A Pioneer Press report discusses the legislation the sponsor of the universal background checks bill -- Rep. Michael Paymar, D-St. Paul -- will support now that his beefier proposal is dead:

[Paymar] said he will instead focus on a plan to extend background checks to all purchases at gun shows, but not other private gun sales or transfers. It will also have provisions from a bill backed by the National Rifle Association, including beefing up information included in the state's existing background check system and giving prosecutors more tools to crack down on illegal gun owners...

The NRA and gun rights advocates vowed to fight the newest version as well, saying it still doesn't accomplish the end goal of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. They also argued Paymar's delaying tactics throughout the day were to give DFL leadership more time to "bully" members of their own party to vote for it.

Cornish, in his colorful way, also said he opposes the new, watered-down gun-control bill.

"Unfortunately, we weren't able to cut the head off the snake and now it's going to slither its way onto the House floor where we'll have to kill it there," he said.

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