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Legislation expanding the right of Minnesota gun owners to use deadly force against intruders cleared the Senate on Thursday by a 40-23 vote. At least four DFLers joined every Republican in passing the bill.

‘Castle Doctrine’ bill passes Senate

Sen. Gretchen Hoffman

Legislation expanding the right of Minnesota gun owners to use deadly force against intruders cleared the Senate on Thursday by a 40-23 vote. Four DFLers joined every Republican in  passing the bill.

Freshman Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, carried the measure, arguing that it’s necessary to safeguard gun owners who might otherwise face prosecution for protecting themselves. “If you are some place lawfully and someone threatens you with grave, great or substantial bodily harm you should be able to defend yourself, and that’s what this bill allows,” Hoffman said during the floor debate.

But DFL Sen. John Harrington, a former St. Paul police chief, argued that the legislation is completely unnecessary and will endanger cops. “I would challenge anyone in this body … to give me one case, one case, where a person who has been defending themselves in the state of Minnesota has been prosecuted, charged or convicted,” Harrington said on the Senate floor. “You can’t do it, because it doesn’t exist.”

Hoffman’s bill bolsters what’s often referred to as the “Castle Doctrine.” Under the legislation, the definition of dwelling is expanded to include adjacent decks, hotel rooms and other temporary accommodations, including cars and boats. The bill also recognizes conceal-and-carry permits obtained in other states as legally valid in Minnesota.

Outstate DFL Sens. Tom Saxhaug, Rod Skoe, Dan Sparks and David Tomassoni voted in favor of the legislation.

A similar measure passed the House last year. The bills are likely headed to a conference committee to work out any differences.

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