Minnesota domestic violence survivors, mayors, members of the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America chapter in Minnesota and law enforcement today applauded the House passage of HF 3238, legislation introduced by Representative Dan Schoen, that will save lives and protect women and families by keeping guns out of the hands of convicted stalkers and domestic abusers. Proponents also urged the Minnesota Senate to pass the legislation, which is endorsed by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, a group of over 900 police chiefs and law enforcement officials across the state. HF 3238 is the companion bill to legislation introduced by Senator Ron Latz, SF 2639, which will be taken up by the Senate as soon as this week. New polling released today by Everytown for Gun Safety shows that nearly 80 percent of Minnesotans support the provisions in the legislation. The bill’s passage in the Minnesota House follows on the heels of domestic violence legislation passed recently in Washington State and Wisconsin.
Current Minnesota law prohibits abusers convicted of domestic assault from possessing handguns but is silent regarding their ability to possess assault weapons and other rifles and shotguns. The bill will close this loophole, a critical step since nearly one in five domestic homicide victims are murdered with a shotgun or rifle. It will also protect victims of domestic violence and stalking by creating a process to ensure that prohibited abusers and stalkers relinquish their guns and store them with dealers, law enforcement, or other trusted third parties. A fact sheet on the bill is available here.
In Minnesota, the number of domestic violence murders rose dramatically in 2013, more than doubling 2012 numbers. Research shows that the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. This legislation will help protect women and families by keeping guns out of dangerous hands.
In the weeks leading up to today’s passage, a number of Minnesotans—including domestic violence survivors, advocates, Moms Demand Action and law enforcement—have testified at Senate and House committee hearings in support. Statements from some of the bill’s proponents are below:
“I’m proud the House passed this common-sense bill to help keep Minnesota’s children and families safer,” said Representative Dan Schoen, sponsor of HF 3238. “A gun in the hands of a domestic abuser makes it more likely that it will be used to commit a murder—and law enforcement, mayors, domestic violence survivors and gun owners alike can agree that this legislation will help keep guns out of the hands of those dangerous people and save lives.”
“My daughter Carolyn was murdered by her husband several days after she filed for divorce. He had previously stalked her—and that day, he shot her eleven times outside of the house where she was employed caring for disabled women,” said Marree Seitz of Duluth. “With laws in place that would keep guns away from dangerous people and domestic abusers, we can prevent Minnesota families from going through the pain of losing a loved one. Today’s victory in the House is encouraging, and I urge the Senate to pass this bill to keep women and families safer from domestic abusers.”
“As a mayor, my first priority is always the safety of our community—and this legislation works toward that goal,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “Taking guns away from domestic abusers and stalkers will save lives, and to me, that’s common-sense. I applaud the House for passing this important legislation, and hope the Senate will put the safety of our communities first by doing the same.”
“This legislation is crucial to the safety of Minnesota women and families, and Minnesota moms are encouraged that both Republicans and Democrats in the House came together to pass it today,” said Rebecca Lowen, Minnesota State Lead of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. We’re working to make both sides of the aisle see that keeping guns away from domestic abusers isn’t a partisan issue– it’s a safety issue– and we hope the Minnesota Senate will also work together to pass this important legislation.”
“As police chiefs, there is little more troubling than firearm possession by persons our courts have deemed so potentially dangerous that they are ordered to cease contact with a loved one or former loved one,” said Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell, speaking on behalf of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association. “Research shows that when batterers have ready access to firearms, victim danger greatly increases. Today’s passage in the House is a victory for law enforcement and Minnesotans’ safety—and I urge the Senate to follow suit by passing this important legislation.”