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Proposed Gun Law Could Halt Family Traditions

Posted at: 02/04/2013 10:43 PM
Updated at: 02/04/2013 10:47 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- President Obama was in Minneapolis on Monday to rally support for his national gun law proposals, but there are already several state gun bills making their way through the Minnesota legislature.

House bill HF241 doesn’t mean much to most people, but if passed, it could mean a ban on all military-style rifles and put tight restrictions on how guns could be transferred to another person, even if that person is a relative.

And while President Obama and many others continue to push for an assault weapons ban, some Minnesota lawmakers say it's an idea without a definition.

“As discussions happen not only here but across the entire country about what to do about assault weapons, one of the pieces that's missing is a definitive explanation of what that exactly means,” said Rep. Erik Simonson (DFL –Duluth).

That's why Rep. Simonson and seven other legislators introduced a bill that would ban certain weapons, not based on specific type, but on their qualities.

The bill would ban semi-automatic rifles and shotguns with detachable magazines and pistol grips, rifles with folding or telescoping stocks, and guns with a fixed magazine that can hold more than seven rounds.

“We don't want to make it illegal for you to have your grandfather's .22 rifle in your gun cabinet,” Rep. Simonson said. “That's not our intent whatsoever."

But attorney Kevin Siefken of Albert Lea said the bill could actually do just that.

He now owns his dad's old .22-caliber rifle, which because of its load capacity, would be considered an assault weapon under the proposed bill.

And he points to a restriction on gun transfers in the law that he said would keep him from passing the gun on to his sons.

“Anything that is classified as an assault weapon under this law would be sort of grandfathered in, but when the grandfather dies, so does the gun,” Siefken said. “The law would not allow these weapons to be passed down."

Instead they would have to be turned over to police or rendered permanently disabled.

And while the law would allow Siefken to keep the gun for himself, he still worries about the possibility of losing a part of his family's legacy.

“When my dad gave me those it was kind of a big deal to me and I'd like to be able to pass that on to my kids,” Siefken said.

The proposed ban would only outlaw guns that were purchased and registered after February 1, 2013.

Legislators insist they are still in the early stages of discussions and welcome any public input.