Bill would ‘fill in gaps’ of expired weapons ban

Associate Editor

St. Paul — State Sen. Satveer Chaudhary admits his bill won’t
likely get its day in committee until 2006, but the Fridley DFLer
wants state legislation to replace federal rules lost when a
weapons ban signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 expired
last fall.

The bill, S.F. 1946, is intended to “fill in the gap left when
the federal government assault weapons ban expired,” Chaudhary said
this week. The federal ban included 19 types of “military-style
assault weapons” that now are considered legal to own.

Chaudhary, who’s had his hand in several outdoors and
hunting-related bills this session, said this bill would not affect
hunters.

“I think most people now think assault weapons have nothing to
do with hunting,” he said. “This (bill) doesn’t come close.”

Chaudhary instead called the bill a “common sense” measure. It
will be known as the “Police Protection Act” because the weapons
addressed by the bill are what law enforcement officers most often
encounter in the street, he said.

“It won’t affect hunting weapons,” he said.

According to the Associated Press, other states, including
California, Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii, already have passed
state rules curbing the use of assault weapons.

Groups on opposite sides of the gun control issue had varying
opinions about the success of the gun ban while it was in
place.

House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Texas, called the ban a
“feel-good” piece of legislation. Meanwhile, the Brady Campaign to
Prevent Gun Violence pointed to several incidents in which banned
weapons were used in commission of crimes. The National Rifle
Association, however, said statistics showed a small percentage of
all violent gun crimes were committed with the use of weapons
included in the ban.

The expiration of the weapons ban didn’t affect federal
background checks required in the sale of guns.

Chaudhary said his bill, like the federal ban, has only specific
weapons in mind.

“We’re targeting basically the high-capacity, repeating-round
rifles — assault weapons,” he said.

Co-sponsors of the bill in the Minnesota Senate include Steve
Murphy, DFL-Red Wing; Mike McGinn, R-Eagan; and Wes Skoglund,
DFL-Minneapolis. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Crime
Prevention and Public Safety Committee.

A House companion bill is being sponsored by Nora Slawik,
DFL-Maplewood; Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center; Karen Clark,
DFL-Minneapolis; Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park; and Michael Paymar,
DFL-St. Paul.

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