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S.F. No. 3866 - Firearms (First Engrossment)
 
Author: Senator Warren Limmer
 
Prepared By: Kenneth P. Backhus, Senate Counsel (651/296-4396)
 
Date: March 13, 2020



 

S.F. No. 3866 makes a number of changes to firearms laws.

Sections 1 to 3, 5, 8, and 13 address mandatory transfers of firearms by certain ineligible persons. Current law prohibits certain persons subject to domestic child abuse protection orders or domestic abuse orders for protection or who have been convicted of domestic assault or of the harassment/stalking crime from possessing firearms. Each of these laws require the court to oversee a process for the mandatory transfer of firearms from the prohibited party. However, there is no process specified to ensure that the transfers have actually occurred.  Sections 1 to 3, 5, 8, and 13 require a court to schedule and hold a compliance hearing within ten business days of issuing a firearms restriction under these laws unless the prohibited party has already filed either the required proofs of transfer or an affidavit that the party does not own or possess a firearm. They also consolidate the mandatory transfer provisions that currently are codified in four separate sections of law into one new section (section 8) codified in the firearms chapter.

Section 4 rewrites the drive-by shooting crime to separate the types of prohibited conduct into numbered clauses and the prohibited conduct and penalty provisions into distinct paragraphs. Currently, it is a felony (statutory maximum sentence of three years imprisonment and/or $6,000 fine) to recklessly discharge a firearm upon exiting a motor vehicle at or toward a building or another motor vehicle.  There is an enhanced penalty (statutory maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment and/or $20,000 fine) for firing at or towards a person, or an occupied building or motor vehicle. However, the language for the enhanced penalty may be construed as being a subsection of the more general crime, thus, requiring that when an offender fires at a person, the offender must also fire at or towards a motor vehicle or building. This interpretation was adopted by the Minnesota Supreme Court in a 2013 decision. Accordingly, this section rewrites the crime to insulate it from this interpretation consistent with the law’s original intent.

Section 6 expands the list of persons ineligible to possess a firearm to include civilly committed sex offenders. A violation of this prohibition is a gross misdemeanor.

Section 7 allows civilly committed sex offenders prohibited from possessing under section 6 to petition a court to have their ability to possess restored via the same process currently applicable to persons who are ineligible due to being mentally ill, mentally ill and dangerous, developmentally disabled, or chemically dependent.

Section 9 amends the permit to carry law to make it a felony (statutory maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fine) for a member of a criminal gang to possess a pistol in public without a permit. A criminal gang is defined via cross-reference to mean any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, that:

  1. has, as one of its primary activities, the commission of a violent crime (defined via cross-reference);
  2. has a common name or common identifying sign or symbol; and
  3. includes members who individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal activity.

 Sections 10 and 11 amend the permit to carry law.

 Background

In October 2019, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) published an open letter to all federally licensed firearms dealers in Minnesota informing them that an earlier determination made in 2017 by BATFE was being rescinded. The earlier determination ruled that a valid Minnesota permit to carry qualified under federal law as an exception to the requirement that a NICS background check be performed on a prospective firearms transferee. The letter stated that since the permit to carry law does not require non-United States citizens to provide certain specified information to facilitate an immigration alien query (IAQ) check, the permit would not serve as an alternative to the NICS check. Sections 10 and 11 are intended to address this so that a permit to carry will once again be valid for this purpose.

Section 10 provides that the permit to carry application must require that if the applicant is not a United States citizen, the applicant must disclose their country of birth and alien number or alien admission number.

Section 11 requires sheriffs to ensure that an IAQ check is performed on noncitizen applicants for permits to carry.

Section 12 increases the criminal penalty for intentionally transferring a pistol or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon to a person known to be ineligible to possess from a gross misdemeanor to a felony (statutory maximum sentence of two years imprisonment and/or $4,000 fine). Also specifies the statutory maximum penalty for the current enhanced offense (see subdivision 2).  This is not a substantive change (Minnesota Statutes, section 609.03, provides that felonies without specified penalties have five year/$10,000 fine statutory maximum sentences).

Section 14 prohibits mayors, city councils, and county boards from disarming or directing chief law enforcement officers to disarm peace officers who are in good standing and not currently under investigation or subject to disciplinary action.

Section 15 requires that the permit to carry application be updated within 60 days to conform with section 10.

 
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