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A Heated Second Day of Minn. Gun Hearings

Posted at: 02/06/2013 6:16 PM
Updated at: 02/06/2013 6:25 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
manderson@wdio.com

Day two of the Minnesota gun hearings brought emotions to the forefront as the committee heard testimony on a bill that would ban certain assault weapons.

"I would caution you on banning a wide array of guns on anything more than their appearance," said Rob Doar, a firearms instructor that brought two firearms into the committee room for a demonstration.

The opposition questioned characteristics they say are cosmetic, not deadly, when it comes to firearms. But those in support of the bill said it is an improved version of the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

"They should not legally be in the hand of any citizen," said former Minneapolis police chief, Tim Dolan. "You don't need them for sport, you don't need them to hunt, you also don't need them for self-protection in your home."

The old ban listed illegal weapons, while the proposed bill lists features that would make a firearm an assault weapon, like a detachable magazine, a telescoping stock, and a barrel shroud.

A major point of contention during this hearing was the inclusion of the AR-15, a firearm those opposed to the ban say is a hunting rifle, not an assault weapon.

"I'm just wondering where these statistics come from because everything shows us this a popular hunting rifle and why do you claim it's only for killing people?" said Republican Rep. Tony Cornish of Vernon Center, in opposition to the bill.

Those in support of the bill countered an AR-15 is unnecessary for hunting or sporting. Retired FBI agent, John Egelhof, looked back on the Red Lake shooting to relate how an AR-15 could be used in a mass shooting.

"If that weapon had made it into Red Lake High School, there is no measure of what carnage that would have created," said Egelhof.

The hearing continues Thursday with at least four gun bills on the agenda.