City takes shot at conceal-and-carry

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July 21, 2003 // UPDATED 10:59 am - April 30, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

Taking a shot at the state's recently passed conceal-and-carry law, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution to ban dangerous weapons from city-owned buildings or any space leased or controlled by the city.

City Councilmember Paul Zerby (2nd Ward) authored the resolution, calling it "a modest step for safety for our employees and those who do business with us."

"This will bring us into conformity with Hennepin County and Ramsey County ... and the University of Minnesota," he said.

Kevin Smith, director of communications for the State Department of Public Safety, said if the city tries to cover pistols under its definition of dangerous weapons, it is in violation of the conceal-and-carry law.

"The gun law is a pistol law," Smith said.

While private businesses can post signs to ban handguns from their establishments, different rules apply to government, he said.

"Public bodies cannot ban weapons from public places," he said.

There are some exceptions, however. For instance, universities can ban students and employees from carrying handguns, but they cannot keep the general public from carrying a pistol while they are walking on campus, a public safety spokeswoman said.

A challenge to the law would likely come from a citizen with a conceal-and-carry permit who is charged with violating the city ordinance, Smith said.

It does not appear the state will challenge the city's ordinance.

A spokesperson for the state Attorney General's office declined to comment on Minneapolis' ordinance. The Attorney General is defending the state in a lawsuit brought by Edina Community Church seeking to strike down as unconstitutional portions of the state's conceal-and-carry law, she said, referring questions on the city's dangerous weapons ban to Hennepin county Attorney Amy Klobuchar.

A spokesperson for Klobuchar referred questions on the legality of the Minneapolis ordinance to the Minneapolis City Attorney.

Burt Osborne, assistant city attorney for Minneapolis, said the city's legal staff does not think the resolution conflicts with the state's conceal-and-carry law.

State law gives local governments the power to set reasonable rules and regulations to protect the lawful access to and conduct on public property, he said, "just to make sure that the public business is protected free from interference."

"That statute suggests a legislative intent to allow local governments like Minneapolis to place reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on bringing weapons into public buildings -- if doing so would disrupt the business of the government."