Minnesota Statutes § 471.633 expressly preempts all local governments from enacting legislation regulating firearms, ammunition, or their respective components. However, the legislature has enacted various exceptions to this section. Pursuant to these exceptions, local governments have authority to pass the following types of legislation:

  • Regulation of the discharge of firearms.1;
  • Regulation identical to state law.2;
  • Reasonable, nondiscriminatory and nonarbitrary zoning ordinances regarding the location of businesses where guns are sold by a firearms dealer.3; and
  • County regulation of secondhand and junk dealers.4

School districts are specifically excluded from the preemption found in section 471.633 when school boards or school administrators are regulating school grounds, school facilities, school transportation services, school programs, or the conduct of students at any activities conducted under the direct or indirect supervision or control of the school board or administration.5 A school district or entity composed of school districts may not, however, regulate firearms, ammunition or their respective components when possessed or carried by non-students or non-employees, in a manner that is inconsistent with another state statute (section 609.66, subd. 1d) that generally prohibits possessing, storing, or keeping a firearm while knowingly on school property.6

In an unpublished opinion, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota rejected a preemption challenge to a school district’s expulsion policy for possession of a dangerous weapon on school property.7 In M.A.L., the expelled student argued that the school district’s expulsion policy was preempted by Minn. Stat. § 609.66, which makes possession of a dangerous weapon on school property a felony. The student argued that, even though section 471.634 expressly exempts school districts from the firearm preemption statute, the later enactment of section 609.66 impliedly repealed section 471.634 and preempted school districts from regulating the possession of a weapon on school property.

The court applied a four-part preemption test originally set out in Mangold Midwest Co. v. Richfield, 143 N.W. 2d 813, 819 (Minn. Ct. App. 1966), a non-firearms case. The test consisted of four questions: 1) What is the subject matter to be regulated?; 2) Has the subject matter been so fully covered by state law as to have become solely a matter of state concern?; 3) Has the legislature, in partially regulating the subject matter, indicated that it is a matter solely of state concern?; and 4) Is the subject matter itself of such a nature that local regulation would have unreasonably adverse effects upon the general populace of the state?

The M.A.L. court found that: 1) the subject matter to be regulated was possession of a dangerous weapon on school property; 2) the subject matter was not so fully covered as to render it solely a matter of state concern; 3) the partial regulation of the subject matter did not imply that the legislature intended to eliminate the school district’s ability to further regulate the subject matter; and 4) the school district’s regulation of the subject matter did not adversely affect the general population.8 The court concluded the school district’s policy was not preempted by state law.

Other provisions of Minnesota law explicitly supersede all municipal and county regulation on the following topics:

  • The transfer of handguns9
  • Machine guns10;
  • “Transferee permits” allowing the holder to purchase handguns and semiautomatic military-style weapons.11;
  • Permits to carry handguns.1213;
  • The carrying and possession of handguns and the regulation of “Saturday Night Special Pistols.”14; and
  • Metal-penetrating bullets.15.

Minnesota law also details the authority of local units of government over shooting ranges:

A shooting range that operates in compliance with “shooting range performance standards” (adopted by the commissioner of natural resources pursuant to section 87A-.02) must be permitted to do all of the following within its geographic boundaries, under the same or different ownership or occupancy:

  • Operate the range and conduct activities involving the discharge of firearms;
  • Expand or increase its membership or opportunities for public participation related to the primary activity as a shooting range;
  • Make those repairs or improvements desirable to meet or exceed requirements of shooting range performance standards;
  • Increase events and activities related to the primary activity as a shooting range;
  • Acquire additional lands to be used for buffer zones or noise mitigation efforts or to otherwise comply with this chapter; and
  • Conduct shooting activities and discharge firearms daily between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.16

A local unit of government with zoning jurisdiction over a shooting range may extend the allowable hours of operation by the issuance of a special or conditional use permit.17 Furthermore, nothing in sections 87A.01 – 87A.08 shall supersede more restrictive regulation of days and hours of operation imposed by the terms and conditions of ordinances and permits that are in effect on May 28, 2005.18

A shooting range that is a nonconforming use shall be allowed to conduct additional shooting activities within the range’s lawful property boundaries as of the date the range became a nonconforming use, provided that the range remains in compliance with the state’s noise restrictions (per § 87A.05) and shooting range performance standards.19

A person who owns, operates, or uses a shooting range that is in compliance with shooting range performance standards is not subject to any nuisance action for damages or equitable relief based on noise or other matters regulated by the shooting range performance standards.20

To the extent consistent with these provisions, a local unit of government with zoning authority jurisdiction over a shooting range may enforce its applicable ordinances and permits.21

Additionally, a state administrative regulation explicitly allows for local firearm use regulations on trails in outdoor recreation areas that are more restrictive than state regulations.22

Minnesota law provides that “[n]otwithstanding any other law to the contrary, it shall be lawful for any federally licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector to sell and deliver firearms and ammunition to a resident of a contiguous state in any instance where such sale and delivery is lawful under” 18 U.S.C. § 921 et seq.23 Similarly, Minnesota law provides that “[n]otwithstanding any other law to the contrary, it shall be lawful for a resident of Minnesota to purchase firearms and ammunition in a contiguous state in any instance where such sale and delivery is lawful under” 18 U.S.C. § 921 et seq.24

Finally, Minnesota law states that during the effective period of a state of emergency proclaimed by the governor relating to public disorder or disaster, no government agent may prohibit, regulate, or curtail the otherwise lawful possession, carrying, transportation, or use of firearms and ammunition.25 Nor may any government agent seize or confiscate a firearm or ammunition, unless the person is a peace officer acting in the course of their lawful duties and reasonably believes such action is “immediately necessary for the protection of the officer or another individual.”26

During proclaimed states of emergency, government officials are also prohibited from revoking or suspending valid licenses to carry or transfer firearms, and may not close or limit the hours of operation of any businesses that lawfully sell firearms and ammunition, unless such limitations apply equally to all manner of businesses.27 Minnesota law provides that an individual may seek relief in court against a person who violates those restrictions.28 In other words, Minnesota law is quite clear that states of emergency must not be used as a justification for limiting or restricting access to or possession of firearms and ammunition.

 

 

Notes
  1. Minn. Stat. § 471.633(a) ⤴︎
  2. Minn. Stat. § 471.633(b) ⤴︎
  3. Minn. Stat. § 471.635 ⤴︎
  4. Minn. Stat. § 471.924. Secondhand and “junk dealers” are persons engaged in the business of buying secondhand goods, including guns, excluding used goods taken as part or full payment for new goods. ⤴︎
  5. Minn. Stat. § 471.634. ⤴︎
  6. Minn. Stat. § 609.66, subd. 1d(g). ⤴︎
  7. In re the Expulsion of M.A.L., No. C8-02-739, 2002 Minn. App. LEXIS 1292 (Nov. 26, 2002). ⤴︎
  8. M.A.L., 2002 Minn. App. LEXIS 1292, at *6-*8. ⤴︎
  9. Minn. Stat. § 624.7132, subd. 16 ⤴︎
  10. Minn. Stat. § 609.67, subd. 6. ⤴︎
  11. Minn. Stat. § 624.7131, subd. 12 ⤴︎
  12. In In re Application of Hoffman, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota held that a city policy imposing requirements for a handgun permit impermissibly infringed on the statutory directive of section 624.717. 430 N.W. 2d 210, 213 (Minn. Ct. App. 1988). ⤴︎
  13. Minn. Stat. § 624.714, subd. 23. ⤴︎
  14. Minn. Stat. § 624.717 ⤴︎
  15. Minn. Stat. § 624.7191, subd. 4 ⤴︎
  16. Minn. Stat. § 87A.03, subd. 1. ⤴︎
  17. Id. ⤴︎
  18. Minn. Stat. § 87A.08, subd. 1(a). ⤴︎
  19. Minn. Stat. § 87A.03, subd. 2. ⤴︎
  20. Minn. Stat. § 87A.06. ⤴︎
  21. Minn. Stat. § 87A.08, subd. 1(a). ⤴︎
  22. Minn. R. 6100.4100. ⤴︎
  23. Minn. Stat. § 624.71, subd. 1. ⤴︎
  24. Minn. Stat. § 624.71, subd. 2. ⤴︎
  25. Minn. Stat. § 624.7192 (c). ⤴︎
  26. Minn. Stat. § 624.7192 (b). ⤴︎
  27. Minn. Stat. § 624.7192 (c). ⤴︎
  28. Minn. Stat. § 624.7192(e). ⤴︎