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Will Minnesotans Support the Firearms Freedom Act?

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Minnesota Republican State Representative Tom Emmer (19B-Delano) introduced legislation in the House on Thursday that seeks to restrict the reach of federal firearms laws by exempting Minnesota-made firearms and ammunition that remain in the state from federal laws and regulations, including registration.

In a statement released by the House GOP Caucus Communications Office, Emmer said:

“The federal government shouldn’t be keeping track of citizens that are lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights. Now, more than ever, citizens need be vigilant when it comes to protecting their individual liberties.

While it is not clear from Rep. Emmer’s statement as to why he believes citizens need to be protecting their 2nd Amendment liberties “now, more than ever,” it is true that a large percentage of Minnesotans own guns – 1 in 2, in fact, according to several public opinion polls conducted over the past three years.

A Smart Politics analysis of 21 SurveyUSA polls conducted from October 2006 through February 2009 finds approximately 49 percent of Minnesota adults own at least one firearm. That number is about on par with the gun ownership rate in the neighboring states of Iowa (47 percent) and Wisconsin (50 percent).

Emmer’s legislation would eliminate the requirement to register any personal firearms and ammunition manufactured and remaining in the Gopher State. Gun control advocates maintain strict registration requirements are one element in an ongoing effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people safe from gun violence. Those opposing stricter firearms laws maintain such legislation has the net effect of insuring only criminals have guns, leaving residents more vulnerable to violent firearm attacks.

Minnesotans have been historically divided over the general need to make gun control laws more strict in the state, although a much larger percentage of residents seem to be in favor of tightening the laws as opposed to loosening them (a substantial percentage of residents believe the laws are fine just as they are).

For example, a July 2004 Humphrey Institute poll found 44 percent of Gopher State residents wanted gun control laws to be more strict, with 44 percent wanting them kept as is, and 10 percent wanting them less strict. Similar result were measured in July 2004 Humphrey Institute polls of Iowans (41 percent more strict, 41 percent the same, 14 percent less strict), and Wisconsinites (39 percent more strict, 48 percent the same, 10 percent less strict).

Back in September 2003, Star Tribune polling found a majority of Minnesotans believed proposed handgun carry permits would make the state a more dangerous place to live (51 percent), with just 11 percent believing it would make the state safer.

The truth is, however, that the Upper Midwest has some of the lowest gun homicide rates in the country. According to a Smart Politics analysis of 2005 Bureau of Justice statistics, Minnesota has the the 14th lowest such per capita rate, at just 1.43 gun homicides per 100,000 residents. Minnesota’s rate is lower than that of Wisconsin (#20, 2.38 gun homicides), but higher than North Dakota (#1, 0.16 homicides), Iowa (#6, 0.71 homicides), and South Dakota (#9, 0.99 homicides).

Lowest Per Capita Gun Homicide Rates by State, 2005

Rank
State
Rate per 100,000 residents
1
North Dakota
0.16
2
Hawaii
0.19
3
New Hampshire
0.52
4
Maine
0.53
5
Montana
0.57
6
Iowa
0.71
7
Vermont
0.81
8
Nebraska
0.97
9
South Dakota
0.99
10
Utah
1.10
11
Oregon
1.34
12
Wyoming
1.38
13
Connecticut
1.41
14
Minnesota
1.43
15
Massachusetts
1.50
15
Rhode Island
1.50
17
Idaho
1.66
18
Washington
2.02
19
Kansas
2.03
20
Colorado
2.38
20
Wisconsin
2.38
22
West Virginia
2.47
23
New York
2.60
24
Delaware
2.74
25
Alaska
2.84
26
Ohio
2.93
27
Florida*
3.09
28
New Jersey
3.19
29
Kentucky
3.20
30
Oklahoma
3.66
31
New Mexico
3.71
32
Indiana
4.11
33
Texas
4.14
34
Michigan
4.19
35
North Carolina
4.21
36
Virginia
4.25
37
Pennsylvania
4.40
38
Georgia
4.45
39
Illinois
4.56
40
Arkansas
4.59
41
Missouri
4.87
42
Tennessee
5.09
43
Mississippi
5.14
43
South Carolina
5.14
45
California
5.15
46
Nevada
5.16
47
Alabama
5.64
48
Arizona
5.68
49
Maryland
7.51
50
Louisiana
7.75
Note: Data compiled by Smart Politics from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Population Estimate for July 1, 2005. Florida gun homicide rate based on 2004 homicide data.

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5 Comments


  • Er... Kinda points out "more guns, less crime" as a truism then.

    I like Rep. Emmer's bill. It could bring more industry to MN and we need that BADLY after chasing out larger companies like 3M with our idiotic tax schemes.

  • Um, has anyone pointed out to Rep. Emmer that his grandstanding bill would likely increase regulatory costs and record-keeping requirements for sellers? At least criminals could buy Minnesota-made guns and ammo and help the economy.

  • No matter what the bill says, it is really about state's rights. It is about enforcing the United States Constitution, about limiting the Federal Government to the role that the Constitution grants it. It is to protect each American citizen's liberties as established in the Constitution.

  • Bill, You couldn't be more right. It's not so much about gun owners. There are already gun owners in Minnesota. The difference is that as a gun owner you would be regulated under state law instead of federal regulation. But it doesn't end here. It would encompass virtually all federal regulation and law from abortion issues to gay rights and on and on. Instead of the fed regulating us we would be regulated locally under state regulation. Let's face it, fed is getting to out of touch with us, but state regulation brings it home and a bit more personal. Don't you feel like your voice is louder in St. Paul rather than D.C.? This is a huge step in reducing the size and scope and power of the federal government. We need to rally around this movement and follow this through. This is a great opportunity for us to bring government back to the people. Stay informed and educate your friends.

  • I think the main point of this bill is to effectively void any future assault weapons ban.

  • Leave a comment


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