Have gun, can travel

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June 16, 2003 // UPDATED 10:51 am - April 30, 2007
By: April Wooster
April Wooster

Some Downtown businesses may think they\'re banning concealed guns. They\'re not.

Some Downtown businesses allow customers to carry guns into their workplaces - despite signs they think ban the practice.

Since the state\'s new conceal-and-carry law was enacted May 28, some businesses display newly required gun-ban signs by their entrances. An informal survey June 6 along Nicollet Mall and Hennepin Avenue revealed that a few of those signs fail to meet the law\'s precise design requirements, and no business with signs informs each patron of the ban.

Gun-ban signs must contain the words \"[BUSINESS NAME] BANS GUNS IN THESE PREMISES\" in black type 1.5 inches high, displayed on a background 187 square inches in size, posted 4 to 6 feet above the floor, in the Arial typeface.

In addition to posting such a sign at every entrance, the law requires businesses to personally inform \"the person\" of the ban and demand compliance. The law is unclear about whether that means a person is known to be carrying a gun or everyone who walks through the door, according to Karla Robertson, an attorney with Faegre & Benson in the Wells Fargo Center who advises businesses on the gun law.

\"It seems incredibly reasonable for businesses to reserve their right to tell only those they know or have reason to believe are carrying a gun about the posted ban, and then demand compliance,\" Robertson said.

Inadequate signs

Most businesses in Gaviidae Common, Nicollet Mall and 6th Street, do not display gun ban signs, with the exception of M&I Bank. Gun carriers can walk into nearby Wells Fargo and Saks Fifth Avenue. They can tote their weapons on through the Mall\'s skyways; even though they are private property, there are no gun-ban signs present.

None of the businesses on City Center\'s first two floors had gun-ban signs. Most IDS Tower businesses do not ban guns either, and there are no signs prohibiting guns at the main entrances of the 80 S. 8th St. complex.

On Nicollet Mall from 8th to 11th streets, there are no anti-gun signs in business entrances, which includes Barnes and Noble, Target and U.S. Bancorp Center. However, across 11th & Nicollet from gun-accepting Orchestra Hall, Brit\'s Pub & Eating Establishment posts legally acceptable gun-ban signs. So does Eli\'s Pub at 13th and Hennepin.

Next door to Brit\'s, Vincent restaurant tries to ban guns, but its sign is less than 2 feet above the ground - below the legal height requirement.

The YWCA at 1130 Nicollet Ave. posted gun-ban signs with letters a few centimeters shy of the 1.5-inch font height specification. When a Skyway News reporter pointed this out to a YWCA employee who would not offer her name, she acted surprised and said the signs would likely be changed the next day.

However, Minneapolis YWCA Chief Executive Officer Nancy Hite said in a phone interview that she has no intention of mandating a sign change to comply with the law\'s design specifications.

\"The law is quite overbearing,\" Hite said. \"I certainly hope we don\'t get to the place where there are sign police.\"

Hite feels YWCA\'s gun-ban signs reflect the spirit of the law, which YWCA opposed because it allows guns in places where there are children and in parking lots.

\"I think that\'s a bigger concern than whether the font size is accurate,\" Hite said.

YWCA\'s signs remain unchanged, and bans that do not meet the law\'s specific design specifications could have trouble standing up in court.

\"The law is very clear about what the sign needs to look like,\" Faegre\'s Robertson said, \"so certainly there\'s an argument that if a sign is not compliant, the business has not made a reasonable request and therefore does not have a basis to make gun-carriers leave.\"

Other businesses

Along Hennepin Avenue, gun-toting shoppers see signs telling them to disarm at places such as National Camera and Video, Gameworks and the Pantages Theatre. The gun sign at the Skyway Show Lounge features a \'50s-style housewife hoisting a machine gun, courtesy of The Rake magazine. Block E, 600 Hennepin Ave., has one sign at its Hennepin entrance, but the white letters painted onto glass do not meet the law\'s design specifications. Patrons could enter Block E through Borders bookstore and the Hard Rock Caf without ever passing a sign.

Downtown universities such as St. Thomas and Metropolitan State display no signs banning guns, and neither does First Baptist Church, 1021 Hennepin Ave. Diners at City Center\'s T.G.I. Friday\'s and Copeland\'s can legally bring guns inside.