County Attorney Freeman testifies for gun safety laws

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman testified before a Minnesota House committee Wednesday night in favor of two gun bills which he said just made common sense.

The first bill would require criminal background checks on sales of handguns and semi-automatic military-style weapons during private sales and sales through the internet.

“House File 8 merely provides for an extension of our existing background checks that already occur in legitimate federally sanctioned gun stores,” Freeman said. “It provides for the same procedure, background checks for purchase, at presently unregulated private gun shows and internet sales.”

Freeman noted that he was testifying as head of the largest prosecution office in the state, as well as on behalf of the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association and as a hunter and sportsman.

He noted that 20 other states already require background checks on all handgun sales and that numerous studies show background checks for private sales saves lives.

The second bill, often referred to as the Red Flag bill, would allow the police to seek a court order to temporarily remove guns from a person in a psychological crisis.

“Almost everyone that owns or possesses firearms are law abiding and responsible,” Freeman said. “Occasionally, however, we have individuals who make credible threats to the immediate safety of others in the community and this legislation is needed to protect those threatened individuals. In cases of domestic violence, it may save one life at a time but in cases where someone is planning a mass shooting, this could save many lives.”

Freeman pointed out that lawyers in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office’s Adult Services Division said that currently there is no real process for removing guns from someone they are committing for mental illness. But temporarily removing the guns should reduce suicides and assaults against relatives.

A House committee listened to the testimony until late into the evening. It passed the background check bill and was scheduled to vote on the red flag law Thursday.