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Bill that expands definition of assault weapon introduced in Minn.

ST. PAUL — While one Minnesota House representative has used a little-known rule to get an unexpected hearing on a pair of gun-safety bills this week, another representative has sponsored another that reaches much further than any in recent memory.

And she says she may very well adopt the same tactic as her colleague to garner a hearing.

"Yeah, I'm probably going to have to do what (DFL Rep. Dave) Pinto did. I'm not messing around," said DFL Rep. Linda Slocum, a retired Minneapolis public school teacher from Richfield who said she's been working on her bill since September.

"Several years ago, (DFL) leadership said don't do it, it puts too many members in jeopardy. This year, they said OK. I'm running this, and let the chips fall where they may," Slocum added. "It's a big issue, it's a deadly issue, and let the people decide."

The bill is being decried by opponents as gun-control Armageddon.

"Rep. Slocum has written the most egregious gun control bill we've seen in a generation here in Minnesota," said Bryan Strawser, chairman of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus PAC. "The bill essentially bans most semi-automatic firearms, prohibits them from being bought or sold, and stops them from being passed down to one's children and grandchildren. A generation from now, most firearms in Minnesota will be banned and destroyed by law enforcement."

About the bill

The House bill would:

• Expand the definition of an "assault weapon" to include many semiautomatic pistols, rifles or shotguns and makes possessing them a felony, with the exception of some that were legally registered before February 2018. Those owning a grandfathered assault weapon must undergo a background check, renew their registration annually, and use them only on their property or at a shooting range. Such weapons could not be sold or transferred, only surrendered to law enforcement for destruction.

• Ban private gun sales, or the transfer of firearms between family members or through inheritance; all sales and transfers could only go through licensed dealers. Such sales and transfers would have a two-day waiting period. A record of all gun transfers would be filed with the county.

• Make possessing bump stocks, silencers and many "large capacity" magazines — which hold more than ten rounds — a felony.

• Require all ammunition to be purchased from a licensed dealer, and require a record of all sales for three years.

• Make it illegal for people who owe court-ordered child support to own firearms.

Sponsor willing to talk

Opponents noted the new assault weapon definitions would outlaw many weapons — such as many semiautomatic rifles — commonly used for hunting.

Slocum said, "Do they need that kind of a weapon to hunt? I'm not that well-versed on hunting. I don't hunt, none of my family hunts. But I'd be happy to sit down and talk about it with those that do."

She also added that, "The child-support thing I'm probably going to remove."

When asked what drove her to write a bill this extensive, Slocum said, "I think anyone that wants to buy a gun should be physically present at an active-shooter drill in a school. They all do 'em. You see these little kids doing an active-shooter drill, OK, and it's paralyzing. I'm concerned we're getting blase about it. Oh, it's just life today. Well, it doesn't have to be life today."

Erin Zamoff, head of Minnesota Moms Demand Action, a gun-safety advocacy group, said she hadn't read the bill closely enough to comfortably comment on it.