Senator Johnson, Senate Republicans roll out violence prevention bills to “Protect Minnesotans and Prosecute Criminals”

Senate Republicans put the safety of Minnesotans at the top of the agenda Tuesday with a violence prevention agenda focused on real solutions to the recent increase in violent crime in our state. The series of violence prevention bills will maximize the effectiveness of existing laws, encourage local governments to add more police on streets, trains, and buses, and close loopholes to give prosecutors and judges better tools to take dangerous criminals off the street.

“Senate Republicans have made it a priority bend the curve of violence in our state,” said Senator Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks). “The proposals presented this week focus on one thing – making our communities safer and prosecuting criminals. These are simple and effective. All of them deserve bipartisan support from folks who share our interest in keeping Minnesota families safe and constraining violence on the street.”

The bills were heard in the Judiciary and Public Safety, Transportation and Tax Committees. Several violence prevention bills received initial hearings and public feedback during the interim in St. Paul and Hibbing.

A list of the legislation, with descriptions, can be found below:

• Senate File 2101 requires the courts to hold a compliance hearing within ten business days of issuing a protective order to make sure all firearms have been removed. Individuals subject to orders for protection are required to surrender firearms within three days of the order. However, there is currently no process in place to ensure compliance, and compliance has generally been low across Minnesota.

• SF 2596 increases the penalty for intentionally transferring a firearm to a known criminal from a gross misdemeanor to a felony. The bill deals with “straw purchases” and is a response to local prosecutors who testified they do not prosecute these crimes because of the lower penalty.

• SF 3865 brings Minnesota into compliance with federal law when issuing a permit to carry license, so someone who is not authorized to carry a firearm under federal law is not getting a permit to carry.

• SF 3573 amends our state’s law to clarify Minnesota’s drive-by shooting crime as any shooting taking place from a moving vehicle. The legislation is a response to a 2013 Minnesota Supreme Court decision that narrowly defined the definition to only classify drive-by as in front of a building.

• SF 1458 prohibits mayors, city councils, county boars, and chief law enforcement officers from disarming peace officers who are in good standing and not currently under investigation or subject to disciplinary action.

• SF 3574 amends Minnesota law to make it a felony for a member of a criminal gang to possess a pistol in public. Currently, law defines it as a lesser offense, allowing known gang members the same freedom as everyone else.

• SF 3912 requires the Metropolitan Council to submit an annual report to the legislature regarding transit safety. Additionally, it requires cameras on light-rail trains and encourages the council to increase police presence in our public transit

• SF 3866 closes a loophole by adding civilly committed sex offenders to the reasons why a person would be ineligible to possess a firearm. Current law does not prohibit those who have been civilly committed sex offenders from owning a weapon.

• SF 3144 funds specialized units called Violent Crime Enforcement Teams, or VCETs, that are tasked with taking down dangerous and violent narcotics traffickers, gang members, and related violent offenders. This bill increases funds for those teams.

• SF 3973 requires Minneapolis and St. Paul to use 10% of their LGA dollars to add more police officers until they reach the national average. The nationwide average police-to-citizen ratio is about three officers for every 1,000 residents. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, they are at about two officers for every 1,000 residents.