Felonious Sematics

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Minnesota Court of Appeals decides that having a loaded pistol in the center console of the car is not “carrying a pistol.”  The word “carrying” requires a connection between the pistol and your clothes or some part of your body.

Except . . . that means a person doesn’t need a permit to carry to drive around with a loaded pistol in the center console.  That’s plainly not what the legislature intended when it set up the background check with training and proficiency requirements for pistol carriers.

The rule for transporting firearms has been ‘unloaded, in a case, in the trunk’ for as long as I can remember.  Transporting a loaded pistol out of the case required a permit to carry.  But reading this opinion – even if I DO have a permit to carry, but my loaded pistol is in the center console, then it’s not touching my body so I’m not “carrying” so my permit doesn’t cover that activity.  Suddenly, that has become illegal transportation of a loaded gun outside the case, regardless of having a permit to carry.

This decision, and the prior “carry” decision (State v. Larson), show that the Court of Appeals has a problem.  Either (1) they don’t understand the permit to carry law so they interpret it incorrectly; or (2) they understand perfectly what was intended but hate the idea of armed citizens, so they’re intentionally twisting the law to fit their own agenda.

Either way, the Legislature needs to fix the statute by defining the word “carry.”

Joe Doakes

As the decision shows us, it’s long overdue.

6 thoughts on “Felonious Sematics

  1. Except . . . that means a person doesn’t need a permit to carry to drive around with a loaded pistol in the center console. That’s plainly not what the legislature intended when it set up the background check with training and proficiency requirements for pistol carriers.

    JD, would you please clarify. Does this mean if you are caught, you will be charged with improperly transporting a weapon? Or that people without a conceal permit can now have a loaded weapon within reach?

  2. Bad link. Try this:
    https://mn.gov/law-library-stat/archive/ctappub/2017/opa170403-073117.pdf

    Summary: if you have a permit to carry, the pistol must be touching your body or clothing, it cannot be sitting near you. If it’s not touching you, then it must be unloaded, cased, in the trunk.

    Explanation: The facts in this specific court case were: Maple Grove officer stopped vehicle, driver arrested for DUI, officer searched car to inventory it before towing, found loaded pistol in the bottom of the vehicle center console. State charged driver with CUI (Carrying a Pistol While Under the Influence) in violation of Minn. Stat. 624.7142. Driver asked the court to dismiss the charge because he wasn’t “carrying” the pistol – it wasn’t touching his body or his clothing. Trial court agreed. Court of Appeals agreed.

    I disagree. Why did you have a loaded pistol inside the car if you didn’t think you were entitled to do so under your permit to carry? If you didn’t think you were “carrying” it, then it should have been unloaded in the trunk.

    To me, the central distinction is the person who has the gun. A felon is ineligible to possess a firearm anywhere, ever. A person without a permit to carry, must always transport a pistol unloaded, in a case, even from the car to the range. A permit to carry holder is allowed to carry a loaded gun in public. That difference should be the one that matters, not the location of the gun.

    A felon riding in the passenger seat of the car – within reach of the firearm in the center console – is considered to be “in possession” of the firearm just the same as if he was holding it in his hand. A person who has no permit to carry sitting in the passenger seat – within reach of the center console – I don’t know how the court would rule (hopefully that the passenger is NOT carrying the pistol).

    But under this decision, the person with the permit to carry sitting in the driver’s seat – within reach of the firearm in the center console – also is considered NOT to be carrying that same pistol. Why not? What’s it doing there, if he’s not “carrying” it? Why isn’t it in the trunk where it belongs?

    As for your question, I think the court’s reasoning is that a loaded gun in the center console is improper transportation no matter who does it. I also disagree with that – some bucket seats/seat belt buckles make hip carry virtually impossible so dumping a revolver in the cup holder makes more sense without increasing the risk to the public since the driver is already a permitted carrier. But that’s a debate for another day.

  3. JD, I’ve wondered what the prevailing law is under couple scenarios:

    * Driving a pick-up with gun in a locking safe in the console, pistol has magazine removed and not chambered. Is this lawful transport regardless of P to C status? If the gun in the safe is also in a gun rug and ammo in a rug in an exterior pouch would that be legal?

    * Given the above if the driver is a permit holder that is above the .04 carry threshold for alcohol would that get them in trouble for CUI?.

    These are a couple of questions I’ve wondered about for a long time, particularly due to the fact that a P/U has no trunk.

    I’m very curious about your thoughts.

  4. Thanks JD. It is just that I could see no info whether Prigge was subsequently charged with improper storage of a firearm. If not, he is a lucky guy to get off so easily. Again, thanks.

  5. As you all know, I’m a bureaucrat with a law license, not a lawyer actively practicing in the area of Minnesota firearms law. I’d love to hear the thoughts of someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. How about a guest column?

  6. Maybe Mitch could get someone like Marc Berris or another closer to the particulars of the subject to weigh in?

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