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Josey1Josey1 Member Posts: 15,758
edited January 2002 in General Discussion
Published: Monday, January 28, 2002 EDITORIAL: CONCEALED WEAPONS BILL: Senate should await: data before acting:One of the earliest hot-button floor votes in the Minnesota Legislature, which convenes Tuesday, could occur in the Senate over whether to greatly expand permits to carry concealed weapons in the state. Advocates of looser permit requirements are hoping to bring back a bill that was narrowly rejected last May, and which they say they have the votes to pass this time. Backers and opponents of the measure, which went down by two Senate votes, present their views on today's opinion page. While we continue to have grave reservations about the merits of the bill, neither we nor the Legislature, we are convinced, have sufficient information to make a well-informed decision about the best course for the state. We have regularly maintained that the parties in this long-standing struggle have largely been relying on anecdotal evidence to support their case. Up to now, no statewide records showing permit applications accepted and rejected, and the reasons for rejection, have existed. However, last year, the Legislature directed the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to collect that data for 2001 and 2002, making its first report by Feb. 15. So far, the bureau has heard from 380 of 500 law enforcement agencies, and expects to meet the deadline. Critics of the current law, which gives police chiefs and county sheriffs discretion in issuing concealed weapons permits, say those law enforcement officials have been too capricious in their decisions, thus creating wide disparities across the state. Their solution is a change in law that would require county sheriffs to issue permits to any applicants not disqualified under specific, listed factors, such as being a convicted felon or under age 21. Is it too much to wait until the BCA report arrives to analyze the data before turning the current law upside down? Absolutely not. Further, action should await special elections Tuesday to fill two Senate seats -- one in St. Paul, the other in Duluth --- so that all citizens have a voice in this controversial question. Those pushing for change need to make a clear and convincing case that the current law has irreparable flaws. Until the BCA gets the numbers, at least for 2001 and maybe also for 2002, any change of this law would be premature.
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