Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association announced on March 6 its support for state legislation that would improve public safety by strengthening gun background checks and increasing punishments for repeat offenders.
Sheriff Stanek and Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jim Franklin joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the State Capitol in St. Paul to support the legislation authored by State Representative Debra Hilstrom of Brooklyn Center.
The proposal would improve data sharing by providing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with the most current, accurate and complete information on individuals that are ineligible from possessing firearms due to civil commitments for mental illness or certain felony convictions. It would tighten gaps in existing law by providing real timelines by which data must be entered into the system. This is a reform that Sheriff Stanek and the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association had urged state lawmakers to address in January.
“A background check is only as good as the data that is put into the system and we need complete, timely information about people who are ineligible to possess a firearm,” said Sheriff Stanek, “When a court deems a person mentally ill and dangerous to oneself and others, that person should not have access to a gun.”
The proposed reforms also include the following: tougher penalties and mandatory minimum sentences on violent felons who possess guns illegally, prohibit felons from possessing ammunition, stronger penalties for straw purchasers, and felony penalties for people engaging in repeated false reports of lost or stolen firearms.
“This bill is the only bill that protects second amendment rights while including a critical provision to strengthen existing background checks,” said Sheriff Stanek.