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Dakota County Sheriff Calls for Ban on High-Capacity Assault Weapons

Also, Sen. Al Franken will be at Eagan's Dakota Hills Middle School on Monday to discuss school safety.

Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows said today that he supports a ban on the sale of high-capacity assault weapons.

"I believe in the second amendment,” Bellows told Patch this morning, three weeks to the day after the Newtown, Conn., massacre in which 20 children were killed. “I’ve signed, over the years, 9,000 permits to carry" firearms.

“But does the second amendment extend all the way to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines?" Bellows asked. "I don’t think it does.” 

On a separate but related note, Sen. Al Franken announced Friday that he will be at Eagan's Dakota Hills Middle School on Monday to meet "with several Minnesota educators, child advocates, and school-safety officials to discuss ongoing efforts to improve school safety."

Are People with Mental Health Problems Acquiring Guns?

In recent weeks, Bellows has expressed concern about another gun-safety issue—that Minnesota's permit-to-carry law may be allowing some people with serious mental health issues to acquire firearms. Franken has invited Bellows to discuss a partnership between the state's mental health and criminal justice systems. 

Franken is convening a meeting in St. Paul on Saturday on the issue. About 15 to 20 officials and activists, including Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and representatives from the Minnesota Crisis Intervention Team are expected to attend.

“We already had this scheduled before the shooting, so it was something we were already planning to do, but now it’s taken on a different context,” said Marc Kimball, a Franken communications aide.

Bellows said he will be unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict but that he hopes to participate in future discussions.

“Fifteen to 20 percent of the population suffers from some form of mental health issues and five, six, seven percent suffers from serious mental health issues,” he said Friday. “If you look at the number we reject, which is about 1 percent, I get concerned we’re missing people who have mental health issues and should not have access to a weapon.”

Bellows said that the permit process successfully identifies applicants who have gone through the courts’ mental health system but that there is a blind spot when it comes to aspiring gun owners with serious mental health problems that have been treated in private practice.

He said that for those cases, public safety needs to trump privacy rights. 

“The issue is the people who have mental health issues that have not come into the purview of the courts and have been treated privately and now they’re out requesting a permit to carry,” he said. “We really want to be careful about people who should have permits to carry.”

Dakota County Crisis Response Unit Supervisor Brian McGlinn said that since Newtown, he hasn’t seen an uptick in phone calls from citizens concerned about people with mental health issues carrying firearms.

“We work very closely with law enforcement,” he said. McGlinn’s response unit has partnered with Eagan police in providing a “crisis stabilization unit” that works with families with underlying mental health issues.

Gun Permits on the Rise

Bellows emphasized that an assault weapon ban is completely separate in his mind from the mental health issue.

Gun ownership has been surging locally; Dakota County processed 2,814 gun permits in 2012, a more than 65 percent increase over the previous year.

“We handled a couple hundred alone in the weeks after the Newtown incident,” Bellows said.

s bake January 05, 2013 at 12:31 AM
I would hope a LEO would know the difference between a mag and a clip. Apparently not. And to claim he supports the 2nd amendment but wants to restrict the sporting rifles that are popular for self defense? Ridiculous. According to FBI UCR statistics there are about 2x as many killed by fists than all rifles. these "assault weapons" which are actually sporting rifles are a small subset of that. These rifles are owned by millions of owners and the vast majority use them responsibly. As always, it is important to examine the data rather than submit to the media hype.
Jim Christian January 05, 2013 at 01:36 PM
It's good Sheriff Bellows and some elected officials are acting with a reasoned multi-faceted response. Bellows correctly state those with serious mental health issues that haven't been in court, are the ones law enforcement needs the information on before issuing gun permits. Before making your decision on what you believe first understand what the words mean. "Assault weapon" was coined due to certain AUTOMATIC weapons (hold trigger and repeated shots fired until released) not falling under the classification RIFLE. The term "assault weapon" and "assault rifle" do not include SEMI-AUTOMATIC rifles and pistols (each time trigger is pulled a shot is fired).
WuzYoungOnceToo January 05, 2013 at 03:54 PM
The term "assault weapon" as used currently was coined as an attempt to demonize civilian-legal semiauto firearms and make them seem more scary to the ignorant masses...and some sheriffs, apparently. It is just one out of a long list of dishonest rhetorical tactics engaged in by activists who have found that the unmanipilated facts do not support their position.
Patrick Lynch January 05, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Time for a new Sheriff
Rich Moe January 06, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Sounds like we need a new sheriff in Dakota County...
frank January 06, 2013 at 04:13 PM
i wouldnt limit the ability of the police to respond to a crime , be that limit the capacity of their weapons or training ,they have a tough job and need all the help that we can give them . so why limit our ability to protect our self when the police cant be there fast enough ?
A Lindberg January 06, 2013 at 04:45 PM
"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." Daniel Webster
Jeff Bonderman January 06, 2013 at 05:39 PM
The problem is that people like Sheriff Bellows feel they have the right to infringe on the people's right to bear arms (including any type of gun). If the good sheriff really understood the Second Amendment and the rights of the people he wouldn't be suggesting this at all. The ignorance of the sheriffs thinking is that banning assault weapons will not stop these killings no matter how terrible they are. These killers would find other weapons such as shotguns, knives, cars etc.What then Sheriff? Ban knives, all guns, cars? Stop attacking our American Citizen rights and do your job to protect our rights.
KlineOUTin2014 January 06, 2013 at 08:56 PM
I agree with you. These anti's are just going to get ousted from office. Just use cation when you use facts they get confused and start using "Stats" from the BradyCampain. AR15 - Sport hunting rifle, usuaally has a black appearance and is styled after military weapon. Clip - 1) Used to hold a bag of chips closed; 2) Used to hold a womans hair in place.
Lenny from Lakeville January 06, 2013 at 09:59 PM
I am curious how many permits sheriff bellows signed prior to the law changing to "shall issue". Then we will know if he supports the second amendment or not. I am guessing he denied almost all based on his current statements . Sorry Sheriff you can not have your cake and eat it too!
Bryan Strawser January 06, 2013 at 10:29 PM
Will Sheriff Bellows be removing high capacity magazines and "assault rifles" (his term) from his officers?
KlineOUTin2014 January 07, 2013 at 01:56 AM
Unconstitutional laws are not laws and will not be followed by me or any true American "Shall not be INFRINGED" MG
Jim Flaherty January 07, 2013 at 11:41 PM
That the Sherriff uses his First amendment rights to try to remove your Second amendment right is not surprising. I think we would all be better off if Government officials went to work to get the unbalanced people off of the streets. If law enforcement knows someone is mentally ill and unstable what are they doing about it? My guess is nothing. But instead of getting the dangerously mentally ill off of the streets they try to take away stable people rights. Shame, shame, shame.
Lorri Barnett January 08, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Banning certain types of guns, certain types of magazines (or anything for that matter), simply increase their value on the black market. It does not make them go away. Ever.
Iam AnonEmous January 10, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Anyone remember the plots... Minority Report? Judge Dredd? 1984?! Law enforcement best be ready to lay down the M-4's if we do! These "republicrat", lobbyist leaders of the broken and corrupt, "two" party bankster system, begin again to re-share with us, the democracy they have so patriotically spread nearly all the world now. They seem to really have all our best interests at heart don't they?!? More laws, more admendments, more money, more control. In guise our freedoms as their purpose, do not be fooled! The people of America... all around the globe... Occupying... idea Anonymous.... the 16 over 9000... We do not forget our brothers Assange or Manning... we are the 99%. We are Legion! We are non-violent all...! Revolution will NEVER be legal but, we WILL see our lives, our worlds, our freedoms our humanity... truly begin. We will not stop! Another world is possible! DISOBEY... and we remove the control! Vox Anon! Vox Populi!
Iam AnonEmous January 10, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Anyone remember the plots... Minority Report? Judge Dredd? 1984?! Law enforcement best be ready to lay down the M-4's if we do! These "republicrat", lobbyist leaders of the broken and corrupt, "two" party bankster system, begin again to re-share with us, the democracy they have so patriotically spread nearly all the world now. They seem to really have all our best interests at heart don't they?!? More laws, more admendments, more money, more control. In guise our freedoms as their purpose, do not be fooled! The people of America... all around the globe... Occupying... idea Anonymous.... the 16 over 9000... We do not forget our brothers Assange or Manning... we are the 99%. We are Legion! Our collective mental health IS getting worse daily. We do not Forgive... Revolution will NEVER be legal... we are non-violent all...! Just know, together we WILL see our choices and lives, our worlds, our freedoms our humanity... a new begin. We will not stop! Another world is possible! DISOBEY... and we remove the control! Vox Anon! Vox Populi!
Iam AnonEmous January 10, 2013 at 11:29 AM
sorry for the double post... *shrug* damn technology!

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