The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus and others filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota State Fair because of its gun restrictions. The groups argue that the Minnesota State Agricultural Society does not have the authority to bar people from carrying guns at the state fair. According to Minnesota Public Radio, “Ramsey County, whose sheriff is directing fair security this year, is also named as a defendant.”
The lawsuit cites Minnesota state laws about carrying guns, which read, “The legislature of the state of Minnesota recognizes and declares that the second amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms. The provisions of this section are declared to be necessary to accomplish compelling state interests in regulation of those rights.”
Also, the lawsuit cites a state statute that states “[n]o sheriff, police chief, governmental unit, government official, government employee, or other person or body acting under color of law or governmental authority may change, modify, or supplement these criteria or procedures, or limit the exercise of a permit to carry.”
The groups argue the state fair and its governing authorities fall into the categories of government officials and government authority. The group filing the lawsuit also notes that permitted carrying is allowed even within the Minnesota State Capitol.
The lawsuit reads, “Plaintiffs wish to exercise their fundamental, constitutionally and statutorily protected right to carry loaded, operable handguns on their person, at the annual Minnesota State Fair, for lawful purposes including immediate self-defense. But they cannot because of the laws, regulations, policies, practices, and customs that Defendants have been enforcing and continue to actively enforce today.”
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher allegedly said in a public interview following the release of the lawsuit, “One of the interesting areas of law is that if the judge were to rescind [the fair’s] policy, not only would people be able to carry concealed handguns, they’d be able to carry long weapons, outwardly exposed long weapons, as well.” He also questioned why he was named a defendant in the case, as his department is only in charge of security at the gates of the fair.
As was reported on Minnesota Public Radio, attorney Leah Janus wrote on behalf of the fair that, “The State Agricultural Society has the obligation and the authority to impose rules and policies that prioritize the health and safety of fairgoers.” Janus implied that the rule banning firearms from the fair was a way of prioritizing the health and safety of participants.
– – –
Photo “Minnesota State Fair” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.