Is Minneapolis Ready for better Gun Control Laws?
In light of persistent gun violence in the City I am taking a serious look at improving the laws/regulations that ban or regulate ammunition and firearms in Minneapolis. Twenty two people have been killed with a hand gun so far this year. This fact, together with a recent article in the Star Tribune, “7 Shootings in 7 Hours”, that came just after the Supreme Court decision ruling the Chicago handgun ban unconstitutional, offers a chance to raise this issue again. We call this out in the Youth Violence Prevention Plan that I have been working so hard on since 2006, “Support sensible illegal gun laws and work to change community values around the acceptance of guns. This includes seeking stronger penalties for people who sell and distribute illegal guns, and profit from the sale and distribution of illegal guns to young people.” Chicago has already responded to the court decision with its own new ordinance. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38061266/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/?gt1=43001
Among other things, it does the following:
- Bans gun shops in the city.
- Prohibits gun owners from stepping outside their homes, even onto their porches or garages, with a handgun.
- Limits the number of handguns residents can register to one per month and prohibits residents from having more than one handgun in operating order at any given time.
- Requires residents in homes with children to keep them in lock boxes or equipped with trigger locks.
- Requires prospective gun owners to take a four-hour class and one-hour training at a gun range.
- Prohibits people from owning a gun if they were convicted of a violent crime, domestic violence or two or more convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Calls for the police department to maintain a registry of every handgun owner in the city.
- Those who already have handguns in the city would have 90 days to register those weapons.
- Residents convicted of violating the city's ordinance can face a fine up to $5,000 and be locked up for as long as 90 days for a first offense and a fine of up to $10,000 and as long as six months behind bars for subsequent convictions.
Unfortunately, even if the entire City Council, Mayor and a majority of Minneapolis residents supported enacting similar legislation in Minneapolis we would be unable to do so because in 1985 the state legislature took away Minneapolis’ authority to regulate hand guns. I believe it is time for the legislature to restore that authority and at least give us more flexibility in determining how best to register and regulate hand guns in Minneapolis.
I also think we need to admit that hand guns and ammunition are a public health threat. If they are, we need to start looking to ways to hold the industry and users responsible for the costs associated with that. There is already a federal excise tax on bullets and sporting arms (11 percent) and handguns (10 percent) that gets split among the states. The tax goes into the Pittman-Robertson Fund, which was created in 1937 for conservation purposes. Imagine what a modest state tax on bullets and hand guns could offer to help cover the health costs associated with gun violence and provide funding for gun violence prevention efforts throughout the state.
Here is what the state legislature passed in 1995:
“Laws of Minnesota 1985 CHAPTER 144-H.F.No. 576 An act relating to local government; setting authority to regulate firearms and related matters; amending Minnesota Statutes 1984, sections 624.7132, subdivision 16; and 624.717; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 471; repealing Minnesota Statutes 1984, section 624.718.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: Section 1. [471.633] [FIREARMS.] The legislature preempts all authority of a home rule charter or statutory city including a city of the first class, county, town, municipal corporation, or other governmental subdivision, or any of their instrumentalities, to regulate firearms, ammunition, or their respective components to the complete exclusion of any order, ordinance or regulation by them except that: (a) a governmental subdivision may regulate the discharge of firearms; and (b) a governmental subdivision may adopt regulations identical to state law. Local regulation inconsistent with this section is void. Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 1984, section 624.7132, subdivision 16, is amended to read: Subd. 16. [LOCAL REGULATION.] This section shall be construed to supersede municipal or county regulation of the transfer of pistols except more restrictive regulation in cities of the first class. Sec. 3. Minnesota Statutes 1984, section 624.717, is amended to read: 624.717 [LOCAL REGULATION.] Sections 624.711 to 624.716 shall be construed to supersede municipal or county regulation of the carrying or possessing of pistols and the regulation of Saturday Night Special Pistols except more restrictive regulation in cities of the first class. Sec. 4. [REPEALER.] Minnesota Statutes 1984, section 624.718, is repealed. Approved May 17, 1985”