Minnesota was on its way this week to enacting universal background checks for gun sales and what are termed red flag laws, which allow for concerned third parties to pursue temporary restrictions on access to firearms for individuals who are suspected of posing a danger to themselves or others.
Such allowances are already in place in some jurisdictions, and expansions to the categories of individuals who can seek the orders have also been a subject of recent legislative moves. In Colorado, state authorities recently added healthcare professionals and teachers to groups who can pursue action. In Minnesota, the state is still enjoying unified Democratic control of its state legislature and governorship after the 2022 midterm elections, which has provided the opportunity for some of these developments. Minnesota Democratic Governor Tim Walz has already signed protections for abortion and gender-affirming care into law, in addition to new protections around voting, including the establishment of an enhanced system for automatic registration.
Minnesotans interacting with certain state authorities will be automatically registered under the plan. That system gets around the GOP tendency towards essentially pointless restrictions around even registering to vote, like the plan sought in Texas to force certain residents registering online to also submit physical copies of some of their forms, although registering to vote online has long been established as appropriately facilitative under the relevant laws.
On guns, Walz said he intended to sign the new rules, adding Minnesota to the states implementing their own systems of universal background checks, even as federal action proves more difficult thanks to Republican opposition and the filibuster rules in the Senate.
“As a veteran, gun-owner, hunter, and dad, I know that basic gun safety isn’t a threat to the Second Amendment,” Walz said Tuesday. “It’s about our first responsibility to our kids: Keeping them safe. When the bill reaches my desk, I’m going to sign a red flag law and background checks into law.”
A legislative proposal containing the gun provisions and more, like increased opportunities for reductions in time spent in jail, was passed by the Minnesota state House early Tuesday, just after midnight. Polling has consistently shown that universal background checks are very widely favored by Americans, as are other often discussed ideas. Even a ban on assault weapons was found to have majority support, no matter Republican insinuations to the contrary.
As a veteran, gun-owner, hunter, and dad, I know that basic gun safety isn’t a threat to the Second Amendment.
It’s about our first responsibility to our kids: Keeping them safe.
When the bill reaches my desk, I’m going to sign a red flag law and background checks into law.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) May 16, 2023