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Schoen bill would take guns from domestic violence suspects

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ST. PAUL -- Domestic assault suspects could be required to give up their guns under bills moving through the Minnesota Legislature.

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"This bill will stop violence and reduce the number of women murdered by guns each year," Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, told the House public safety committee Tuesday before the panel voted to support it.

Schoen, a Cottage Grove police officer, said his bill requires a judge's order before guns can be confiscated. "This bill does not allow the government to take guns without due process."

In some cases, guns could be removed before a trial. In other cases, the guns would be taken away after a conviction.

Unlike many gun-related bills, gun-right advocates waged little opposition.

St. Paul City Attorney Sarah Grewing said that 38 women died from domestic violence incidents last year, 10 in which guns were involved.

"A woman is six times more likely to be killed in a domestic violence incident if there is a gun in her home," Grewing said.

"If you beat women and children, you don't deserve to have your gun," Schoen said.

Julie Zappa of St. Paul said she lived with an abuser "for over five years."

One day she recalled was when her abuser sat above her in bed. "Down came the fist, down came the fist," she said, pounding her fist in the air to illustrate that sometimes his fist came near her face, sometimes it hit her.

Despite her situation, Zappa said, she does not support government removing guns.

"I understand fear," she said. "I personally understand the anger."

However, she said, "it is not so much about killing as it is about abusing ... about causing fear."

"It is a fallacy that a piece of paper will keep me safe..." Zappa said. "Abusers will find a way to get a gun whether it is legal or not."

The House committee passed the bill on an overwhelming voice vote, sending it to another panel. A similar bill awaits a full Senate vote.

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