February 15, 2013

In St. Joseph, Dayton says he supports state-level checks for guns

In St. Joseph, Dayton says he supports state-level checks for guns

Governor also defended his tax proposals in Wednesday question-and-answer session

ST. JOSEPH — Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday he supports requiring universal background checks for gun sales in Minnesota, one of several high-profile gun proposals now before the Legislature.

Dayton also vigorously defended his proposal to overhaul the state tax code, decrying as “dishonest” those who say his plan would cost middle-class taxpayers as well as the wealthy.

The governor’s remarks came at a question-and-answer session with moderator Gary Eichten and College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University students, sponsored by the university’s McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement.

Eichten asked Dayton if he backs efforts to extend background checks to gun sales between private individuals and other sales now exempt from such checks.

“From the standpoint of common sense, that’s something I hope they’ll advance in the Legislature, and I’ll certainly support it,” Dayton said.

After the session, Dayton said he supported a federal requirement for universal background checks on gun sales when he served in the U.S. Senate. He said he now supports such a requirement at the state level.

A bill to address that issue was one of several gun proposals discussed in highly charged public hearings last week in the Minnesota House.

When asked if he would sign one of the bills implementing the universal-background-check requirement, Dayton said: “I won’t sign anything until I’ve read it, but again, I support the principle.”

President Barack Obama called for a federal requirement for universal background checks during his visit to Minneapolis last week.

Dayton also rejected suggestions that his budget proposal, released last month, would hurt the middle class. His plan to overhaul the tax code would hike tobacco taxes and income tax rates on the wealthy, broaden the sales tax to many services and some clothing purchases while lowering the rate, and give property-tax rebates of as much as $500 to homeowners.

“My tax proposals have always been specifically targeted at those who can most afford to pay more,” Dayton said.