Minnesota Sheriff and Prosecutor Blast Storage Mandate, ‘Lost or Stolen’ Bill

While Minnesota lawmakers have introduced a slew of gun control bills this session, the two that are moving quickly at the moment are HF 4300 and HF 601, imposing new storage mandates for gun owners and requiring them to report the loss or theft of a firearm within 48 hours or face penalties themselves. 

At a hearing on HF 601 on Thursday, bill sponsor Kaohly Vang Her made a claim that seems utterly bizarre on its face. 

While it’s odd that a petty misdemeanor wouldn’t be considered a criminal offense (it’s a misdemeanor, after all), Her is right that under Minnesota statutes a petty misdemeanor “means a petty offense which is prohibited by statute, which does not constitute a crime and for which a sentence of a fine of not more than $300 may be imposed.” It might be only be a petty offense, but the lost or stolen legislation is also a prime example of the petty tyranny being directed against gun owners in Minnesota this session. 

Even though a petty misdemeanor may not be treated as a crime in statute, in order to enforce that fine police and prosecutors are still going to have to get involved, and that’s one reason why Cass County Sheriff Bryan Welk and County Attorney Benjamin Lindstrom are publicly opposing the bill, as well as the proposed storage mandates for gun owners. In a letter to lawmakers, the pair argue that law enforcement has to prioritize what crimes to investigate and prosecute, and tasking them with enforcing these laws will do nothing to improve public safety. 

The sheriff and prosecutor also point out that Minnesota statutes already provide opportunities to charge someone who allows guns to fall into the hands of unauthorized juveniles, while HF 4300 criminalizes gun owners who don’t store their firearm locked up while it’s not within their immediate control, even if there are no kids in the home. The pair argue that the only Minnesotans who’ll be impacted by the proposed storage mandate are lawful gun owners, while the thieves who might want their guns will be left untouched. 

I don’t think the DFL lawmakers behind these gun control bills care one bit whether their proposals are constitutional or not. They’re looking to put the screws to gun owners, and these are two ways to do so. If they get challenged in court there’s always a chance they’ll be upheld, and until or unless an injunction is granted the laws will remain in force… even if they’re not going to be enforced in many conservative jurisdictions.

Instead of trying to criminalize the right to keep and bear arms, the sheriff and county attorney argue that lawmakers should be increasing funding for things like the state corrections department, mental health, and substance abuse treatment. With the DFL majority looking to scrap mandatory minimum sentences for using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime, I doubt that there’s going to be much interest in giving the prison system more money, and even if legislators do throw a few dollars towards mental health and substance abuse treatment, that doesn’t mean they’ll do that instead of adopting new restrictions on gun owners.

When we last spoke to Rob Doar from the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus he said that he’s had several productive conversations with rural DFL lawmakers, and right now there’s no guarantee that either HF 4300 or HF 601 have the votes to get to the governor. Hopefully we’ll see more sheriffs and prosecutors speak out about the fundamental flaws with both proposals before the bills hit the House floor, but gun owners around the state should follow Welk and Lindstrom’s lead and contact their representatives and senators to voice their objections to these bills. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Germany Appears to Have Inadvertently Revealed the UK and France have Soldiers in Ukraine

Closing Arguments in Fani Willis Disqualification Hearing Do Not Go Well For Her