Senator Dave Thompson (R- Lakeville/Northfield) is supporting a controversial gun bill that would decriminalize shooting people if they attempt to open the latch on a fence surrounding your yard.
The bill says a person can kill someone who “enters or attempts to enter by force or by stealth the dwelling or occupied vehicle” of another. In legal jargon, “by force” means “any amount of force.” Thus, opening the gate latch or rattling the gate becomes “entering or attempting to enter by force.” And, tucked under “definitions” in the bill, “dwelling” is redefined to include the “curtilage,” or yard. In other words, if you rattle the gate to the yard, the homeowner can kill you.
Thompson downplays this. He says the the bill presumes the homeowner is in the right instead of the person being shot.
Opponents of the bill say:
The “Shoot First” bill overhauls Minnesota law on the justifiable taking of life in two ways:
1) Near the home: As soon as someone opens the gate to enter another person’s yard, the person entering the yard would be “presumed to do so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving a life-threatening level of force,” and a homeowner could legally take that person’s life.
2) In public places and in a car: The bill eliminates one’s responsibility to escape a dangerous situation if possible before resorting to taking a life.
“Shoot First” is a “solution in search of a problem,” said Ramsey County Prosecutor Susan Gaertner when the bill was first introduced. Indeed, the bill did not arise from any problem in Minnesota. It is part of a National Rifle Association strategy to get this law adopted everywhere.
A requirement that Minnesota recognize all other states’ permits to carry pistols, allowing out- of-staters to carry loaded guns in public in Minnesota without restriction or oversight. Minnesota would be forced to recognize permits even from states like Indiana, where permits are valid for life; and Georgia, Idaho, South Dakota, West Virginia, New Hampshire and Mississippi, where no gun safety training is required and background check standards are among the lowest in the country.
A blanket restriction on the ability of Minnesota law enforcement to confiscate guns and gun purchase permits, including during emergencies, which would limit officers’ ability to remove firearms from the homes of domestic abusers.
The state background check system would be weakened. By extending the validity of all existing permits from one to five years, it would allow more disqualified people to buy guns by expanding the time between possible commission of a crime and the expiration of the permit. “Chasing down criminals to get their gun permits back is expensive and dangerous for law enforcement,” said Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence.
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