Silencers Making Lots of Noise in Minnesota Gun-Control Debate

Minnesota Rep. Mark Anderson (R) wants to legalize firearm silencers, also known as “suppression devices,” in his state because when he is out duck hunting, “as soon as I make one shot, my ears are ringing every single time.”

That was just one sentence in a cacophony of debate that broke out in March about changing Minnesota’s firearms laws, a partisan quarrel that is making Gov. Mark Dayton’s ears hurt, too . . . every single time.

Dayton, a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which is affiliated with the national Democratic Party, does not want to change the state’s firearms laws.

He doesn’t even want to hear the debate in the state’s capitol.

He does not have a choice.

Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature pushed several pieces of legislation through the committee stage in March that are backed by groups like Minnesota Guns Rights and opposed by a left-wing citizen organization known as Protect Minnesota.

The House and Senate will have to deal with the legislation when the legislature returns from its Easter/Passover break April 7.

The Minnesota House Public Safety Committee approved legislation in March that would allow state residents to put silencers on their guns.

Proponents say silencers only suppress the sound of a gunshot to 140 decibels, which is still eight times louder than a jackhammer. They say the legislation is only intended to protect the hearing of hunters.

Heather Martens, the executive director of the pro-gun control group, Protect Minnesota, found that argument disingenuous.

“Silencers are not designed for hearing protection,” Martens testified before the House Public Safety Committee. “Silencers are designed to let people commit murder and get away with it.”

The Public Safety Committee was not dissuaded by Martens’ testimony. The committee also approved a proposal to make it easier to bring a gun onto the state Capitol grounds.

Legal gun owners would no longer have to ask Capitol Security by mail or email for permission to carry on Capitol grounds.

“If you have a permit to carry, you should be good to go,” the sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Jim Nash (R), told KARE-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The list of gun-related Minnesota legislative action in March didn’t end there.

Rep. Dan Fabian (R) introduced legislation that would protect the rights of North Dakota gun owners with permits to carry their firearms into Minnesota without fear of legal problems.

One of the most controversial gun-rights proposals is House File 1289, which is a “right to bear arms” constitutional amendment introduced by Rep. Tom Hackbarth.

It would protect Minnesotans’ rights to “acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms, including firearms, knives, other weapons as well as ammunition, components, and accessories for any of them, for defense of life, liberty, self, family, and others, sanctity of dwelling, and for all other purposes . . .”

Here’s the kicker: The constitutional amendment that Hackbarth wants to see on the 2016 ballot would also stipulate “registration, mandatory licensing, special taxation, fees, or any other measure, regardless of type, manner, or purpose, that suppresses or discourages the free exercise of this right, is void.”

Heather Martens at Protect Minnesota called it a “nullify-all-gun-laws amendment.”

“This is a brazen attempt to fool the public by misnaming a constitutional amendment,” she said.

The Ides of March lasted all month for liberals and their gun control groups. Not all of the controversy surrounded legislation that specifically mentioned gun rights.

GOP Rep. Steve Drazkowski introduced the Defense of Dwelling and Person Act, commonly known as Stand Your Ground legislation. This bill might not be about the right to own a firearm, but it is certainly all about the right to use a gun to defend oneself.

Stand Your Ground legislation was approved by the Minnesota Legislature, but vetoed by Gov. Dayton in 2012.

So, this is certainly a conversation Democrats don’t want to have again.

Chris Dorr, the executive director of the group Minnesota Gun Rights, warned on his blog that Drazkowski’s proposal would be stonewalled by House Speaker Kurt Daudt (D).

Daudt’s office did not respond to a PJM request for comment.

It was not just Minnesota pro-gun-rights legislators who introduced firearms legislation in March.

Gun control advocates are backing legislation offered by Democratic-Farm-Labor Party Sen. Ron Latz. It would set up a system through the state Commission of Human Services by which state residents could “voluntarily” ask to be prohibited from owning a firearm.

It would also set up a “voluntary database” of those names and would allow police and family members to ask a court to block a person from receiving a firearms permit if they are believed to be a threat to themselves or others.

Dorr described Latz’s proposal as “the gun-control bill of the year”

“If passed, it would create a statewide database program that would be used by medical professionals to convince people to willingly give up their gun rights,” Dorr wrote.

“Worse, it would cripple the foundational due-process rights we are protected by now and introduce ‘ex parte hearings’ in Minnesota.” he added.

“Call it gun control by declaration, rather than adjudication.”