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Plymouth City Council Reverses Position On Background Checks

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A local city council sparked controversy on Monday over a decision to remove support for criminal background checks for some gun owners.

On Feb. 12, 28-year-old Trisha Nelson died after her fiancée stabbed and shot her at a Plymouth intersection.

"From what we can tell he is a prohibited person, should not have had access to firearms," Sheriff Rich Stanek said after the shooting.

The tragedy prompted conversation about gun control at a local level.

"This is a big deal," said Rev. Nancy Nord Bence, director of Project Minnesota.

The Plymouth City Council originally supported legislation preventing individuals who are not legally able to purchase a gun from doing so without a criminal background check.

"It's not a city issue," said Mayor Kelly Slavik.

But at a special meeting on Monday the council voted to retract its support, after leaders say residents were upset with the council weighing in on gun control.

"It doesn't need to be on our legislative priorities list, and the state will make those decisions," said Slavik.

"It was an excellent decision," said gun owner Nicholas Roehl.

Roehl says the city taking a stand wouldn't affect any policy, and that the background checks would only affect private sales, not crime.

"It would only prevent people, friends, family from giving a firearm to their son, selling a firearm to their uncle," said Roehl.

Others disagreed, saying the message mattered, even if no policy would change.

"They don't pass laws, but they encourage people, or people encourage them and it moves up," said Bill Krause of Plymouth.

"If you were to ask anyone 'Was Trisha Nelson's life worth three minutes of time and 45 dollars for a gun purchaser to go through a criminal background check?'" said Bence. "I think they'd say yes."

All six members of the council present on Monday voted to remove the background check item from their legislative priorities.

The man who shot and killed Trisha Nelson on Feb. 12 also died that night.

He killed himself after a shootout with police.

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