It’s a crime in Minnesota to carry a handgun in public without a permit. The state also has a number of other laws regulating the possession, carrying, and use of dangerous weapons in certain situations. This article outlines the main weapons charges you could face if you violate those laws.
Minnesota outlaws carrying guns and other weapons under certain circumstances and in certain places. In general, restrictions on carrying guns don’t apply to law enforcement officers or antique guns that are kept merely as curiosities or historical artifacts. (Minn. Stat. §§ 624.714, 624.715 (2019).)
You can be charged with a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota if you carry a handgun in a public place without a state permit, whether it’s on or near your body or in a motor vehicle, snowmobile or boat. However, if you’ve already had a previous conviction for the same offense, carrying a pistol without a permit is a felony.
In order to get a handgun carry permit, you must:
Even if you have a permit, it’s a misdemeanor to carry a handgun in public while you’re under the influence of alcohol, controlled drugs, or any intoxicant. (Minn. Stat. §§ 624.714, 624.7142 (2019).)
It’s a gross misdemeanor (or felony for subsequent offenses) to carry a rifle, shotgun, or BB gun in a public place, unless:
(Minn. Stat. §§ 97B.045, 624.7181 (2019).)
Possession of any dangerous weapon on K-12 school property and or a school bus is a crime in Minnesota. It’s a misdemeanor if you have a valid handgun permit; otherwise, it’s a felony. You may also be charged with a misdemeanor for having an imitation or BB gun on school property.
It’s a felony to have a dangerous weapon in a courthouse or certain state buildings. There are a number of exceptions, however, including for authorized personnel and handgun permit holders. (Minn. Stat. § 609.66, subd. 1d, 1g (2019).)
Minnesota prohibits some people from possessing any firearms, including those who:
Minors (under age 18) are prohibited from having handguns or semiautomatic assault weapons unless they have completed a safety and marksmanship course or are under proper supervision—by a parent or during training, competition, or target practice.
Penalties for these restrictions range from a gross misdemeanor to a felony for those with previous convictions for violent crimes or felonies. (Minn. Stat. §§ 609.165, 624.713 (2019).)
Illegal Possession of Stun Guns and Tasers
Most adults in Minnesota may possess and use stun guns and Tasers (called “electronic incapacitation devices” in state law) to defend themselves or their property. However, some of the people who are prohibited from having guns (including those convicted of violent and drug crimes) may be charged with a felony for possessing an electronic incapacitation device. It’s a misdemeanor for minors to have or use a stun gun or Taser. (Minn. Stat. § 624.731 (2019).)
Minnesota bans certain types of guns, including:
Criminal charges for possession of any of these banned weapons range from gross misdemeanors to felonies. (Minn. Stat. §§ 609.67, 609.667, 624.712, 624.716 (2019).)
Minnesota law also addresses the illegal use or handling of guns and other dangerous weapons, including:
These crimes are generally misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors, other than illegally giving a gun to a minor—which is a felony. Also, certain crimes, like assault, carry stiffer penalties when they involve the use of a gun or other dangerous weapon. (Minn. Stat. §§ 609.66, 609.666, 698.222 (2019).)
If you’ve been charged with a weapons-related crime in Minnesota, it’s important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced local attorney can explain how the state’s laws apply to your circumstances, give you an idea of what to expect in the criminal proceedings, and help you present the strongest possible defense.
Changes in the Law
Because states may change their laws any time, it’s a good idea to check the current Minnesota statutes. But court decisions could also affect how the laws are applied and interpreted—another good reason to speak to a lawyer if you’re worried about actual or potential weapons charges.