LETTER: Vote ‘no’ on proposed gun bill
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email email@example.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.
I am writing this letter as sheriff of Wadena County, on behalf of the citizens who elected me into this office.
I have concerns with the proposed language in House File 396 regarding firearm and ammunition storage requirements.
The bill, as proposed, does nothing to penalize criminals and puts further liability on lawful firearms owners.
There is already a statute in law that criminalizes negligent storage of a firearm. Statute 609.666 outlines reasonable steps that need to be taken to keep children safe in homes that possess firearms. Repealing this statute only makes criminals out of responsible gun owners and is quite honestly not enforceable as written.
In my 28-year law enforcement career, I have unfortunately seen a multitude of violent crimes. One thing I cannot recall over my career, however, is a person who is legally possessing a firearm committing a violent crime. Many of the times, it comes down to that person having a mental illness or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Responsible gun owners know that being under the influence of alcohol carries its own laws and consequences when it comes to being in possession of a firearm.
Similarly, Statute 624.713 outlines the disqualifiers for being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, and after judicial determination of a mental illness.
Rather than make new laws, we need to hold people accountable to the laws we already have that are seeing lighter and lighter consequences imposed.
As a rural sheriff, I know some citizens may have to wait an extended period of time for a law enforcement response, by no fault of their own.
If a criminal is breaking into their home, I feel they as law-abiding have the constitutional right to protect themselves and their families. This proposed bill does nothing but give the advantage to the criminal and further handcuffs the homeowner by not letting them make proper determinations on the safety in their home.
I made a commitment to my constituents that I would continue to protect their 2nd Amendment rights as their sheriff. I cannot support this bill as an elected official, and urge you to vote “no,” if and when it comes to that time.
Making criminals out of responsible gun owners does not help curb the gun violence in Minnesota and across the country, and shifts the burden further off criminals and onto responsible gun owners.