ST. PAUL - Minnesota guns may be a bit quieter if a House-passed bill allowing "silencers" gets Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton's approval.

The bill passed the Republican-run House 89-40 Thursday after a vigorous debate, but faces a tougher road in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"These gun suppressors do not make a gun silent," bill sponsor Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore, said during debate about one of several gun-related bills. "What they do is make it quieter."

He said the suppressors change a gunshot from being ear damaging to "just really, really loud."

"Neighbors, even out in the country, would benefit from less sound," Anderson said, adding that gun owners using suppressors would be better able to hear each other at shooting ranges.

Rep. Joe Mullery, D-Minneapolis, said that his urban district differs from rural ones.

"In my district, when you hear the word 'duck,' you begin running for cover," he said.

That is different than in a rural district, where "duck" may mean a hunting trip.

Minneapolis has devices around the city to determine where shots are fired, Mullery said, and they cannot be traced when silencers are used.

"This does work on stopping crime," Mullery said about the shot finder device.

Long-time law enforcement officer Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said that a Minneapolis police officer said the shot trackers do not work all the time, even without silencers.

The silencer-suppressor legislation was one of several gun measures representatives debated Thursday.

"Minnesota is a gun state," said Cornish, wearing a National Rifle Association T-shirt under his jacket, which itself was adorned with rifle and pistol pins. "It is past the time when you can beat up on gun owners."

The House voted 92-38 to get rid of a law that requires people who want to carry a pistol in the Capitol to notify the public safety commissioner.

Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, said that since the law was passed, the Public Safety Department has developed a comprehensive database of gun permit owners. That, he said, is a better way to keep track of gun owners than a written letter.

Rep. Dan Schoen, D-St. Paul Park, tried to amend the bill to ban guns when school children were present in the Capitol, as often happens when field trips are held each spring.

"They would not be able to carry firearms in the Capitol when school children are present," Schoen said.

However, House Speaker Kurt Daudt would not allow the amendment to be heard because it would cost the state, and there were no provisions to pay for it.

Representatives approved 88-42 a bill to forbid police from confiscating firearms during a state of emergency. The measure by Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker, said it came about because New Orleans police took away guns soon after Hurricane Katrina hit the city, leaving residents with no personal protection.

Under the bill, police still could take away guns temporarily, such as when responding to a crime.

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