Gun laws have been a salient topic in this day and age. While similarities may ensue, each state has its own set of laws with respect to possession, concealed carry, and types of weapons permitted.
Therefore, it is critical for Minnesota gun owners to familiarize themselves with the state’s firearm laws. Even though the laws are quite lenient when compared to other states, failure to adhere to any of them could result in serious criminal charges, potential fines, and even jail time.
There are different rules regarding “long” guns—such as rifles and shotguns—and “short” guns—primarily pistols.
Minnesota, like many other states, has an “open carry” law. “Open carry” involves an individual visibly carrying a firearm on his/her person.
“Concealed carry” means carrying a firearm on one’s person that is not visible—hence the term concealed. Concealed firearms are typically worn in a holster under the clothing or are kept in purses or other bags designed for concealed carry.
A “duty to retreat” resides in Minnesota law. This means that if someone feels threatened, s/he may only use deadly force as a last resort. This is in direct opposition to “stand your ground” laws common in other states. However, this duty to retreat is inapplicable in someone’s home if said individual reasonably believes s/he or anyone else in the home may be subject to great bodily harm or death by another or that the intruder is committing another felony. This is called the “castle doctrine.”
There are no licensing or registration requirements in Minnesota. Further, even though Minnesota does have an open carry provision, it is not aligned with traditional open carry laws. In Minnesota, a special permit is required to open carry any firearm. Permits are issued by the sheriff’s department in the county where the applicant lives.
There is no stipulation in the law as to whether the weapon must be concealed. Thus, anyone with a Minnesota Permit to Carry a Pistol (PCP) may carry concealed. Also, permits are not required for transporting a firearm or keeping it at home or at one’s place of work.
Prior to 2003, Minnesota was a “may issue” state which means permits were provided on a discretionary basis. However, now, Minnesota is a “shall issue” state which means any carry permits are granted provided the applicant meets the basic requirements.
In order to obtain a carry permit, an individual must:
- Be over 21
- Be a permanent United States resident
- Fill out an application
- Be a resident in the country in which s/he is applying
- Pass a mental health and criminal background check
- Not be a person of interest in an ongoing criminal investigation
- Provide evidence of completion of a firearm safety course within one year of the application
With respect to reciprocity, Minnesota honors all permits from states with similar requirements.
In order to claim self-defense in a shooting incident, the following conditions must be met. First, there was no aggression by the defendant. Next, the defendant believed s/he or others were in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death. Third, the defendant’s belief must be reasonable. Finally, the defendant had no reasonable possibility to retreat.
The state does not require background checks for private firearm sales unless the seller is a federally licensed firearm dealer. However, if a private transfer is made to a prohibited individual who uses the gun during the commission of a violent felony within one year of the transfer, then the private seller can face gross misdemeanor charges.
Whereas some states have restrictions on “military” style or “assault” weapons and high-capacity magazines, Minnesota has no restriction. Instead, the law states that anyone 18 years of age and older may purchase an assault weapon with a permit to purchase, while anyone 21 and over may purchase one with a permit to carry.
There are certain places where an individual may not carry a firearm, even with a permit. Such places include:
- Schools and school buses
- Childcare centers if children are present
- State hospitals
- State detention or correctional facilities
- Courthouses (without special permission) including any courtroom or office therein
- Any federal facility
- Private establishments if posted or asked to leave by the owner or agent
- Places of employment, both public and private, if the employer restricts firearm possession by employees