House Public Safety Committee kicks off gun-control hearings - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

House Public Safety Committee kicks off gun-control hearings


AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC)--The House Public Safety Committee kicked off three days of hearings Tuesday on proposed gun laws.  New amendments to House Bill 241 would eliminate a long list of firearms and broaden the definition of an assault rifle.

Kevin Siefken is an Albert Lea attorney. He first learned how to shoot his father's gun when he was just a boy.  When it came time to teach his own sons, he taught them on that same rifle; the one his father passed down to him.

 "I got-the guns from my father," said Siefken.  "I'd always thought I'd pass them down.  It's very dissappointing to see that the law might take this gun out of the family when it's always been in the family."

Instead of naming each rifle specifically, the law would classify a gun by its characteristics.  One of the new stipulations defines an assault weapon as "any semi-automatic pistol, or any semi-automatic, centerfire, or rimfire rifle with a fixed magazine, that has the capacity to accept more than seven rounds of ammunition"(H.F. No. 241).  Siefken's .22 Long Rifle holds more than 7 rounds of ammunition, qualifying it as an assault rifle under the proposed bill.

"Guns like the .22 I got from my father, I always thought I'd pass it on to one of my sons and under that law, I wouldn't be able to.  No way," said Siefken.

If the bill becomes law, Siefkin will have to register his gun annually, be subjected to a background check, and agree to a home inspection to insure proper storage of the weapon, among other requirements.  Also, he would not  be allowed to pass the gun to his sons as the law states assault weapons "may not be purchased or transferred, except for transfer to the appropriate law enforcement agency for the purpose of surrendering the weapon for destruction" (H.F. No. 241).

 "They run the risk of taking the guns away from people who have had them a long time and have handled them well," said Siefken.  "Right now, as the bill is written, it's not really narrow enough."

Rewriting the law to make it "narrow enough" is just one of the many challenges lawmakers will face in the coming days.  The debate on Minnesota's gun control laws will continue following President Obama's visit to Minneapolis on Monday.

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