The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety met today to learn more about current laws designed to prevent violence and review gaps in enforcement of those laws. The committee also announced a second hearing in Hibbing, MN on January 21.
Senate Republicans today provided an overview of existing laws to prevent violence in Minnesota communities. “We’ve seen an increase of violent behaviors and interactions over the last year,” said Senator Warren Limmer (R- Maple Grove), chair of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. “Today’s hearing is meant to give us a baseline of knowledge regarding current laws that respond to a rising level of violence I continue to hear about.”
In the course of the hearing, legislators and the public heard from non-partisan senate staff about Minnesota’s current laws that dictate when a person can or cannot possess a firearm, protect people from domestic violence through restraining and protective orders, and how we afford individuals due process before removing guns from their home. They were also provided a packet of relevant news articles highlighting recent violence and statistics about criminal behavior.
“It appears we have a much larger systemic problem,” Senator Dan Hall (R- Burnsville) said. “Judges and prosecutors have been waiving the mandatory minimum sentence in 40% of gun violence felonies and sending the message that we’re not serious about these crimes, many of which were committed by people who shouldn’t have been able to according to our current laws. We may find we have decent laws on the books that are just not being enforced.”
Senator Mark Johnson (R- East Grand Forks) who represents the northwestern corner of the state, said, “In a couple of months, I’m bringing my wife and kids down to St. Paul during session, and we are concerned about our family’s safety based on the headlines we’re seeing.”
Limmer announced that while today’s hearing was a presentation on current laws, a hearing in Hibbing, MN on January 21st will include hearing specific proposals in the Senate that may address violence prevention. The January hearing will also provide citizens in Greater Minnesota the opportunity to hear from legislators and testify about their concerns directly before the committee.
For details or to subscribe for notices to the next hearing, please see the Senate Judiciary & Public Safety Committee webpage.
- Violence in the news (December 2019 hearing) (PDF)
- Nonpartisan summary of firearms possession for persons with mental illness (PDF)
- Nonpartisan summary of background check requirements for firearm transfers (PDF)
- Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission data (PDF)
- Violence Free Minnesota 2018 Homicide Report (PDF)