Ortman introduces bill to protect gun-owners’ rights and target crime
State Senator Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) and a bipartisan group of over 20 co-authors introduced the Gun Crime Enforcement Proposal on Wednesday, March 13 in conjunction with companion House bills.
“This bill contains a variety of initiatives intended to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who are already legally prohibited from possessing firearms — by targeting instances of gun crime and assisting law enforcement and prosecutors in enforcing current restrictions,” Ortman said in introducing the bill.
“It’s a crime for a convicted felon to possess a gun; it’s also a crime for someone to lie on a gun permit application, or to buy a gun illegally. That’s current federal law and state law,” Ortman continued. “We need to make sure our county attorneys and local law enforcement in Minnesota have all the tools they need under state law to ensure that individuals who are already prohibited by federal law from owning or buying a gun know that we will hold them accountable for their criminal behavior. The Gun Crime Enforcement Proposal includes several important elements, and by supporting it, we protect both the rights and the lives of law-abiding citizens.”
The Proposal cracks down on straw purchases, improves the state and federal background check system and reporting of court-determined mental health disqualifications. It also creates a process for restoration of rights, and strengthens penalties on felons and repeat criminal offenders without creating any new restrictions on gun purchases or ownership. It also does not require universal background checks on gun purchases.
Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson is among a group of Proposal supporters.
“This proposed bipartisan legislation will provide me with accurate and up to date information that I need before issuing a gun permit,” he said. “It imposes harsh penalties on straw buyers who intentionally buy guns for those that should not have them. Criminals and those that have been committed, ‘mentally ill and dangerous’ should not be able to purchase guns.”
Also speaking out in support of the legislation were a pair of area business owners. Bill McDonald is owner of Wings of Watertown, a family owned and operated pheasant hunting preserve.
“Quite honestly, I do not recall any of my customers supporting gun control. They support criminal control,” he said.
Kevin Vick owns Crucible Arms, Other Sports in Lakeville.
“As a licensed firearms dealer, I never want to sell a gun to an unstable or criminal individual. Too often, though, those people’s records have slipped through the cracks. That’s what happened with Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech murderer, as well as Christian Oberender, a local convicted felon, both of whom were able to buy guns because the state record-keeping is so lax,” he said. “Senator Ortman’s bill would seal those cracks, giving me and all Federal Firearm License dealers the information we need to make sure we’re selling only to law-abiding Minnesotans.”
Ortman’s bill is also receiving support at the national level.
“The NRA supports Senator Ortman’s Senate File 1359 because it offers real solutions to address problems of violent crime in Minnesota,” said Chris Rager, Spokesman for the National Rifle Association. “NRA applauds Senator Ortman and the dozens of bipartisan coauthors for protecting and respecting the Second Amendment and getting tough on crime.”
In the state House of Representatives, Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer) and Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) are co-authors on companion legislation, along with every member of the House Republican Caucus and a number of DFL representatives.
In addition to the NRA, the Gun Crime Enforcement Proposal has earned the support of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance and the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association.