Southeast Minnesota Sheriffs Push Back Against Gun Storage Bill
According to the nonpartisan Minnesota House Research Department, the bill sets minimum requirements for gun owners to secure their firearms, requiring them to be stored unloaded with a locking device and separate from the firearm’s ammunition. The proposal also requires gun owners to include the locking device if the firearm is transferred unless the recipient of the gun proves they already have a locking device that meets the requirements laid out in the bill.
The bill also establishes criminal penalties ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony for gun owners who violate the proposed rules. In a letter sent to lawmakers Steele County Sheriff Lon Thiele, who represents sheriff’s offices in southeast Minnesota on the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Board, says the bill infringes upon the rights of lawful gun owners and calls the legislation a “clear overreach of government.”
Thiele also says the bill poses a danger to residents of southeast Minnesota who may need to defend themselves. He says emergency responses in rural Minnesota counties can be delayed due to the size of sheriff’s offices and the large geographical areas they cover. He warns the proposed storage rules would leave gun owners unable to quickly access their firearms to protect themselves and their families.
Theil argues the current state law regarding firearm storage is adequate. Thiel’s letter was signed by all of the sheriff’s in southeast Minnesota, including Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson, Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose, Goodhue County Sheriff Marty Kelly, Fillmore County Sheriff John DeGeorge, Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvick, Winona County Sheriff Ron Ganrude, and Wabasha County Sheriff Rodney Bartsch.
The bill has 27 authors in the House and two authors in the Senate. It’s most recent activity in the Senate was a referral to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House version was introduced in the House Public Safety Committee and re-referred to the House Ways and Means Committee on February 9.