Minnesota Gun and Weapon Laws and Restrictions

Learn when and where it’s a crime in Minnesota to have or use a gun or other dangerous weapon.

By , Legal Editor

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.

When and Where It's Illegal to Carry Guns in Minnesota

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).)

Carrying a Handgun in Public Without a Permit or While Under the Influence

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:

  • be at least 21 years old
  • be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • have completed handgun safety training
  • not be prohibited having a gun under federal or Minnesota laws (discussed below), and
  • not be listed in the state's criminal gang database.

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).)

Illegally Carrying a Rifle in Public

It's a gross misdemeanor (or felony for subsequent offenses) to carry a rifle, shotgun, or BB gun in a public place, unless:

  • you have a gun carry permit
  • the firearm is unloaded and completely enclosed in a case
  • you're on state land or waters for the purpose of legally hunting or target shooting; or
  • you're carrying the weapon to or from a gun shop or a place for hunting or other legal activities (although the gun must be unloaded and kept in a closed trunk or gun case if it's in a motor vehicle).

(Minn. Stat. §§ 97B.045, 624.7181 (2019).)

Possession of Dangerous Weapons in Schools and Courthouses

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).)

Illegal Weapons Possession by Certain People

Minnesota prohibits some people from possessing any firearms, including those who:

  • have been convicted of a felony, violent crime, or drug crime
  • have recently been convicted of domestic assault with a firearm, stalking, and certain other crimes
  • are subject to a protection order for domestic violence or domestic child abuse
  • are still in a diversion program after being charged with a violent crime
  • are illegal drug users
  • have been committed for chemical dependency treatment and haven't completed that treatment
  • have been committed after being found mentally ill or developmentally disabled and a danger to the public
  • are in the U.S. illegally, or
  • were dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military.

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).)

Banned Weapons in Minnesota

Minnesota bans certain types of guns, including:

  • machine guns or kits for converting guns into machine gun
  • short-barreled shotguns
  • "Saturday night special" pistols (an inexpensive type of handgun made of poor-quality materials), or
  • any firearms with the serial number removed or altered.

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).)

Illegal Use of Weapons

Minnesota law also addresses the illegal use or handling of guns and other dangerous weapons, including:

  • handling a gun recklessly, in a way that endangers someone else
  • intentionally pointing a loaded or unloaded gun at someone
  • storing a loaded gun in a place where a child is likely to get access to the weapon, without taking reasonable steps to prevent that from happening; and
  • furnishing a firearm or ammunition to a minor without the consent of the child's parent or the police.

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).)

Legal Assistance for Weapons Charges

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.

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