Gun-control advocates will soon notch another legislative victory in the upper Midwest.
The Minnesota House of Representatives voted to approve Senate File 2909 early Tuesday morning. The wide-ranging public safety bill contains provisions for a “red flag” law to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others and expanded background check requirements for most private gun sales. The bill now heads to Governor Tim Walz’s (D.) desk. He has already pledged to sign it into law.
“As a veteran, gun-owner, hunter, and dad, I know that basic gun safety isn’t a threat to the Second Amendment,” Walz tweeted today. “It’s about our first responsibility to our kids: Keeping them safe. When the bill reaches my desk, I’m going to sign a red flag law and background checks into law.”
The bill’s passage marks a significant win for gun-control advocates who have enjoyed a resurgence in blue states across the country in recent months. Following success in the 2022 midterms, the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party regained trifecta control of the state government for the first time since 2014 after flipping the state Senate by a one-seat margin. That gave the party the legislative juice to pass their long-sought-after gun measures.
A similar dynamic played out in nearby Michigan, where the state’s Democratic party also took advantage of a newly-minted trifecta to pass mandatory safe storage, universal background checks, and its own version of a “red flag” gun confiscation law.
Minnesota gun-control advocates took a victory lap following Tuesday’s vote.
“Families and communities across the North Star State are far too familiar with the destructive effects of gun violence, and went to the ballot box in November and overwhelmingly voted for candidates running on gun violence prevention platforms,” Susie Kaufman, a member of the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action, said in a press release. “We are thankful our representatives are listening to their constituents and prioritizing this critical legislative package, which will help save lives.”
Gun-rights advocates, meanwhile, criticized the bill and said they would consider filing a legal challenge against it.
“In the wake of these new laws, we are unwavering in our commitment to safeguarding the constitutional rights of our members and supporters,” Rob Doar, Senior VP of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, said in a statement. “We will be closely observing the implementation of these laws and will review potential legal actions with our national partners because protecting law-abiding gun owners is our mission and our duty. We will not be dismayed or dissuaded by the passage of new legislation.”
The bill’s background check provision would expand the state’s current requirement for checks on sales from licensed gun dealers to include private, person-to-person sales. It contains an exception for immediate family members. Gun owners would be permitted to perform private sales using a licensed dealer as an intermediary or through their local police department as long as they first obtain a new temporary “transfer permit” from the police.
Under the bill’s “red flag” provision, family members, spouses, roommates, mental health providers, or law enforcement offers could petition a judge to approve taking firearms from someone who “poses a significant danger” to themselves or others. The provision does not include many of the due process safeguards typically requested by gun owners. Those facing petitions won’t have access to public defenders, and a judge can order their guns be temporarily confiscated through an ex parte court hearing where they aren’t present. It would, however, make it a misdemeanor offense to file a false protection order against someone.
While Democrats in the state did manage to get the bill across the finish line, other gun-control proposals, including magazine capacity restrictions and raising the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles, failed to gain traction this session. Gun-rights advocates took some solace in the fact that those more controversial measures were defeated.
“While we are disappointed that several Democrats in swing districts decided to break their campaign promises by voting for gun control legislation, the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus is proud that we were able to put a stop to the majority of the Governor’s radical gun control agenda,” Bryan Strawser, the group’s chairman, said.