Federal judge dismisses lawsuit asking to allow guns at Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus questions whether the fair’s ban on firearms violates Minnesota state statutes and the U.S. Constitution.

2019Minnesota State Fair day 1.jpg
Crowds fill the Fairgrounds on the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights in August 2019.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press file photo
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A federal judge has dismissed a gun owners group’s lawsuit that sought to force the Minnesota State Fair to allow weapons-permit holders to carry their pistols on the fairgrounds in Falcon Heights.

The ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim in Minneapolis ends the latest efforts of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, which questions whether the fair’s ban on firearms violates Minnesota state statutes and the U.S. Constitution.

Last year, a Ramsey County judge rejected the group’s request for a temporary injunction on the gun ban. At the time, District Judge Laura Nelson ruled that the Gun Owners Caucus failed to meet the burden of proof of its claims or that it has sufficient legal grounds to seek relief.

The group contends the ban violates the Constitution’s Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms, and state laws governing the rights of permit holders to carry their guns in public.

The State Fair has banned guns since 2003, when it began posting prominent signs at the gates, and that the prohibition has been posted on the fair’s website since at least 2016, when fair officials began doing bag checks.


The gun group posted a statement about the Aug. 12 dismissal of its lawsuit on its website:

“Judge Tunheim ruled that the Fair’s ban on the lawful carry of firearms by permit holders satisfies strict scrutiny because the fair is a ‘sensitive place,’ ” the statement said. “Minnesota statutes specifically prohibit local government entities from establishing firearm regulations or restricting the lawful right to carry. The Judge did not address this issue but rather found that Minnesota’s preemption statutes do not give private individuals the right to sue over these actions. In his ruling, the judge failed to apply the standard established by the US Supreme Court in the Bruen case.”

The Bruen case, handed down in June, struck down a New York state law that required a license to carry a concealed weapon in public places, and was seen as expanding U.S. private citizen gun rights and restricting government regulation of carrying guns in public.

The caucus said it will be reviewing the decision and its options for appeal over the coming weeks.


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