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The sheriffs of 16 southwestern Minnesota counties have together written a letter to the Minnesota House of Representatives, protesting against the legality and wisdom of proposed new state restrictions on firearms. The bill, Minnesota House File 396, would require legal firearms owners to store their firearms and ammunition in separate secured area.

The full text of the letter, sent Thursday states, “We are writing this letter on behalf of all the Sheriffs in District 3 regarding House File 396, Firearm and Ammunition Storage Requirements. This bill infringes on the rights of lawful gun owners and is a clear overreach of government and the rights of each person to be secure in their homes. This bill will have no positive effect on public safety.

“In outstate Minnesota, law enforcement response can be delayed due to the size, geography and staffing. If needed, lawful gun owners would be unable to quickly protect themselves and their families if they needed to retrieve a firearm and ammunition in separate secured areas while also ensuring the safety of their family. This bill will make our communities less safe.

“There currently is a statue that addresses Negligent Storage of Firearms MN 609.666. The current statue is appropriate and outlines that leaving a firearm in a location where a person knows or should reasonably know that a child is likely to gain access, unless reasonable action is taken to secure the firearm against access by the child is a gross misdemeanor.

“This unnecessary bill, if passed, would make responsible, lawful gun owners criminals for not locking up their firearms. Lawful gun owners are responsible, and can choose the most appropriate way to store their firearm based on their individual situation.

“This is an unnessary, unenforceable bill that 3rd District Sheriff’s do no tupport. We respectfully request that you fight against this legislation and vote no.”

The letter is signed by the sheriffs of Renville, Yellow Medicine, Todd, Lac Qui Parle, Douglas, Meeker, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Pope, Swift, Wilkin, Traverse, Stevens, Otter Tail, Grand, and Big Stone Counties.