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Take out ‘straw purchasers’ of guns

The rash of shootings in Minneapolis and St. Paul has people on edge, especially after three children were killed by stray bullets in recent weeks. The number of illegal guns out on the street seems to be growing, and that’s due to “straw purchasers.” These are people who have no criminal record or other red flags that would prevent them from purchasing firearms. They go into a gun shop, buy a weapon or several weapons legally, and then sell them into the illegal black market.

The Star Tribune recently detailed one such case, a woman who bought 47 guns in May. She and her fiancé turned them over to a street dealer. Some of these guns have ended up being confiscated after being used in crimes.

Straw purchasing guns is illegal, but hard to enforce. There is one measure that has been effective in reducing the number of illegal guns. If someone buying a gun is required to apply for a gun license, which requires that the applicant be fingerprinted, checked by law enforcement and undergo a gun safety training class, it discourages those serving as conduits for illegal gun trades.

Minnesota doesn’t have this law, but it should. It won’t prevent anyone who is interested in legally owning a gun from getting one. And it may slow the flow of firearms from gun shops into the hands of criminals. And that will save lives.

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