July 1, 2003
The new law, known formally as the “Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act of 2003,” went into effect on May 28, 2003. By simplifying the application procedure and lowering qualifica-tion standards, the law now allows most law abiding adults to obtain permits to carry loaded guns almost anywhere they wish. The local sheriff is now required to issue a concealed weapon permit to every person who:
Although members of the public are allowed to “conceal and carry” firearms under this new law, you can bar the carrying of firearms onto private property, as discussed below.
Owners of “private establishments” are allowed to ask gun carriers to leave their premises (but not their parking facilities or lots) under limited circumstances. Under the new law, a “private establishment” is “a building, structure, or portion thereof that is owned, leased, controlled, or operated by a nongovernmental entity for a nongovernmental purpose.”
Owners of private establishments may ask gun carriers to leave their premises only if they comply with the following specific requirements:
They must “prominently” post a “conspicuous” sign at every entrance to the establishment stating: “[NAME] BANS GUNS FROM THESE PREMISES.” The new statute defines “prominently” to mean signs that are “readily visible and within four feet laterally of the entrance with the bottom of the sign at a height of four to six feet above the floor.” By “conspicuous,” the statute means “lettering in black arial typeface at least 1½ inches in height against a bright contrasting background that is at least 187 square inches in area).
They must also “personally” inform each person entering the premises of the posted request and “demand compliance.”
A gun carrier who fails to leave a private establishment when so requested is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and subject to a $25 fine for a first offense.
The new law has many exceptions and intricacies. For example, landlords may not restrict their tenants from possessing firearms, public colleges and universities may establish their own policies for their students, and elementary and secondary schools enjoy a general firearms ban in their buildings and improved grounds. Other laws regulate guns in courthouses, jails, prisons, and some other public facilities.
The new law presents unique challenges for members of the construction industry. Determining when unimproved property becomes a building or structure constituting a “private establishment” presents perhaps the greatest challenge. Until there is a “private establishment,” there is no right to ban guns from the premises.
Fortunately, the general right of a contractor or owner to exclude unauthorized personnel from construction sites, when coupled with the new law’s provision allowing employers to establish policies prohibiting the possession of guns by employees “acting in the course and scope of employment,” should allow most contractors to exclude guns from their work sites if they wish.
A contractor or owner may also request its subcontractors (of any tier) and suppliers – and any others who employ persons who may enter a job site – to agree to have policies barring their employees from carrying guns. A “no guns allowed” rider could even be added to their form construction contracts.
Further, an employer’s policies (i.e., handbook) could also include a procedure for employees to report suspected gun-toting violations to employer representatives, who could then determine whether to notify law enforcement. Bear in mind, however, that employers may not prohibit the possession of guns by employees in a “parking facility” or “parking area.”
With the more relaxed permit application approval process, the number of Minnesotans carrying permitted guns is expected to dramatically increase – from about 12,000 today to perhaps over 90,000. For those involved in the construction industry who want to exclude guns from their construction sites, however, the new law, while a nuisance, should not be an insurmountable impediment to that goal.
This discussion is generalized in nature and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. © FWH&T