Repealing bill would return local control

Minnesota’s conceal-and-carry law hasn’t even been around for a year and groups are already working to repeal it. With a Capitol rally scheduled Feb. 2, they are gearing up for a legislative fight that, in light of public opinion, should be easy. Unfortunately, it won’t be.

It is mystifying as to why the conceal-and-carry law passed in the first place considering the old one had an element conservatives supposedly love: local control.

Before the new law was enacted, polls showed most Minnesotans thought it would make the state more dangerous. The issue certainly was not one Republican candidates heavily advertised during the campaign season. The election brought an increase in Republican office-holders, but conceal-and-carry was not a high priority among Republican activists, especially when compared to other issues on their agenda.

Instead, conceal-and-carry appears to have been the pet project of a few special interest groups and a minority of party activists. Conceal-and-carry inaction was payback for the November 2002 Republican sweep, after which GOP lawmakers had no excuse not to pass it.

In actuality, the law has ended up hurting people who tote guns. The new permit can cost up to $100, requires expensive gun training and because of public outrage people are limited in where they can carry their guns.

We like the stricter training guidelines, but we want sheriffs (or whomever they delegate the responsibility) to regain personal discretion – the right to discriminate – when deciding to grant a permit. However, because of problematic “local politics,” we would support some sort of appeal for permit seekers.

Under the old system, 78 percent of state permit applications were approved. If people do not like their sheriff’s permit policies, they can either vote the person out of office or move to a different county. That’s the beauty of local control.

Repealing the law this session is nearly impossible because the Legislature has nearly the same set of state lawmakers as last spring. Future sessions should be easier, given public opinion and the time elapsed from the election victories, which were, in part, enabled by conceal-and-carry activists.