Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Friday, July 30, 2010

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:

  1. Bans gun shops in the city.
  2. Prohibits gun owners from stepping outside their homes, even onto their porches or garages, with a handgun.
  3. 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.
  4. Requires residents in homes with children to keep them in lock boxes or equipped with trigger locks.
  5. Requires prospective gun owners to take a four-hour class and one-hour training at a gun range.
  6. 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.
  7. Calls for the police department to maintain a registry of every handgun owner in the city.
  8. Those who already have handguns in the city would have 90 days to register those weapons.
  9. 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”

3 Comments:

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Jeff in the suburbs said...

Get real here. Do you think the people performing these murders are your upstanding law abiding citizens? People who break the law, are people who break the law. What makes you think they would pay anymore attention to your proposed laws than they did to the laws already in place. You don't stop criminal behavior by passing more laws; laws that only restrict law abiding people.

 
At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Peter T said...

The list of prohibitions was long, but seems short on measures that could actually help to curb gun crime. To the individual prohibitions:

1. Bans gun shops in the city.

This seems to be there just to annoy gun buyers (and to hurt the own city financially).

2. Prohibits gun owners from stepping outside their homes, even onto their porches or garages, with a handgun.

Would that be legal in light of the recent SCOTUS decision? Or does the rule want to prohibit holding a gun with a hand outside, as if ready to shoot, which would make more sense? Anyway, they should have the possibility to take their gun to a shooting range or to gun training, to increase safety for others and themselves.

3. 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.

Registration limit seems OK, but operation limit of one is artificial. Once at a shooting range, multiple guns should be available to use.

4. Requires residents in homes with children to keep them in lock boxes or equipped with trigger locks.

Good to curb gun crimes and gun accidents, but why limiting it to homes with children? Every gun should be locked away securely when not in use.

5. Requires prospective gun owners to take a four-hour class and one-hour training at a gun range.

Would that be legal in light of the recent SCOTUS decision? I am all for gun safety courses, but maybe a carrot would be better here than a stick.

6. 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.

Any felon should be prohibited anyhow from owning a gun, maybe for the time of double his incarceration plus N years (N equal to five?) Any further limits (like DUI) seem arbitrary.

7. Calls for the police department to maintain a registry of every handgun owner in the city.

Good for curbing gun crimes. Would it help to keep a bullet shot from each gun?

8. Those who already have handguns in the city would have 90 days to register those weapons.

OK.

9. 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.

OK.

 
At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing you propose will stop criminals or lower gun violence. FYI criminals do not obey laws, that is why they are criminals.

Chicago has had a handgun ban for more then 25 years yet over one weekend during 2010 over 28 people were shot and several died. The City's handgun murder rate has actually increased since the ban was enacted, Chicago now has one of the highest murder rates in the country.

If you really want to lower gun violence in Minneapolis with “sensible” laws:

1.Ban alcohol in the city and lock up people found with it or under the influence. Most of the shootings this year have been at or around bars or had alcohol involved in one way or another.

2.Stop handing out welfare to people, people that work for a living don’t have time to hang out and shoot each other.

My list may not be as long as your but it is just as sensible.

 

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