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Legislative notebook: New gun bill would do less than earlier bills

ST. PAUL -- The author of a new gun bill says she wrote it as a compromise, but those who already have related bills are not buying it.

Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, on Wednesday announced a bill that falls short of what the Legislature's judiciary chairmen plan to discuss in committees next week. Hilstrom said she has no promise that her bill will be discussed in a committee.

The Hilstrom bill does not require all buyers of handguns or semi-automatic rifles to undergo background checks, as the chairmen's bills do.

Hilstrom supporters say her bill would close loopholes in existing law that allow Minnesotans, such as dangerous mentally ill people, to get guns even if they are not supposed to.

Surrounded by a mostly Republican cadre of legislators, the suburban Democratic representative said her plan has 73 co-sponsors in the 134-member House.

Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, and Republican Rep. Denny McNamara of Hastings are among the co-sponsors.

House and Senate judiciary committee chairman who plan to bring their own gun plans up for committee votes by the end of next week said they do not plan to change their bills.

No bill moving ahead includes the most controversial gun-control provisions: banning so-called assault rifles and large-capacity bullet magazines.

"This is the only bill that protects Second Amendment rights" to own guns, Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said in support of the Hilstrom proposal.

The National Rifle Association supports the Hilstrom measure.

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, said senators are discussing a similar bill.

Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, said he thinks the Hilstrom bill should receive support from his northwestern Minnesota constituents.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said he is disappointed background checks for all gun sales were not included in the proposal.