ST. PAUL (AP) -- A move to make it easier for Minnesotans to carry guns in public appeared dead at the Legislature after the sponsoring senator, responding to a vote to water down her bill, pulled it from consideration.
Sen. Pat Pariseau acted after the Senate voted 34-32 to water it down. Pariseau, R-Farmington, sought to limit discretion local police now have to deny permits. Her plan would have allowed most law-abiding, mentally competent adults who pass a background check and undergo training to get permits.
"I asked you not to say 'no' and you went ahead and did it anyway to law-abiding citizens," Pariseau said to senators on the floor.
The decision followed a three-hour debate mostly centered on an amendment offered by Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, that would have returned authority to local police.
That amendment would have allowed police to decide whether to issue the permit. If denied, the applicant would have been able to appeal the decision to an administrative law judge. If the judge ruled in the applicant's favor, the police who had denied the application would have to pay the court costs.
Murphy said he offered the amendment because he had a "massive attack of conscience" and apologized for reneging on his promised support for the original bill.
"I learned that I should not make a handshake agreement on something I am not totally sure of," he said. "After looking at all the facts, I came to the conclusion that I cannot support a shall-issue provision in law."
After senators voted in favor of Murphy's amendment, a clearly frustrated Pariseau said, "In this case, discretion is discrimination."
Minnesotans must now prove an occupational or personal safety need to get a permit. But supporters of the revisions say the current standard is subjective and not uniformly applied statewide.
The Senate was the lone obstacle to the proposed law change. The House overwhelmingly passed the measure a month ago and Gov. Jesse Ventura supports it.
The measure now seems unlikely to pass before the Legislature adjourns on Monday.
Law enforcement groups have been working to block it. Several dozen uniformed police chiefs, sheriffs and rank-and-file officers from across the state gathered at the Capitol recently to raise their objections.
And last weekend, about 1,000 people took part in the Million Mom March at the state Capitol to urge the state Senate to reject the bill.
The senators who voted in favor of Murphy's amendment seemed most concerned about the scope of the bill.
Sen. Linda Scheid, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said she supported the general idea of making the issuing of handgun permits more objective, but added that Pariseau's bill wasn't restrictive enough.
It would have prohibited carrying a gun in a school or child care center, but guns would have been allowed most other places.
"I don't think this language is the best we can do," she said.
Texas, for instance, prohibits carrying a gun into a bar, many sporting events, polling places, courtrooms and other places, Scheid said.
In this bill, "there is nothing to say you can't take your handgun into a bar," she said.
But Sen. Doug Johnson, DFL-Tower, offered a word of caution.
"This issue will not go away," Johnson said.
The sponsor of the House bill, Rep. Lynda Boudreau, R-Faribault, called the Senate move "frustrating," but said she wasn't surprised by it and vowed to push the issue again next year.
"When you have a contradictory law, it's not going to go away," Boudreau said, adding that this year had been a "good opportunity to educate folks."
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