ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. - With renewed attention to American laws governing firearms, Minnesota has its own rules. Gun shop owners must comply with the regulations.
"Basically, in Minnesota, you cannot just walk into a gun store or anywhere that sells guns for that matter and just purchase a pistol or what Minnesota deems an 'assault' weapon," said Kory Krause, owner of Frontiersman Sports in St. Louis Park. "There's two permits, the 'permit to purchase' which is good for a year. You go through a background check in your local jurisdiction, whatever city you live in... which allows you to purchase pistols or what Minnesota deems assault weapons.
"The 'permit to carry' which is good for five years, similar background check, that also can work as your 'permit to purchase,'" Krause continued. "Then, when you come in and go to buy a gun, you have to fill out what is called the 4473, the Federal form. We take this information and we either call it in or we can transmit it by computer and it is an additional background check. It federally checks all state. It is much more comprehensive than the state background check. The FBI conducts it. It is called the NICS check. If they come back with a 'deny', even though they have their 'permit to purchase' or 'permit to carry', we cannot sell them the gun."
In Minnesota, if someone purchases more than one handgun in a seven-day period, gun shop owners are required to notify local police agencies.
Krause pointed out that Minnesota has age restrictions. It is 18 or older to buy rifles or shotguns, 21 or older to purchase handguns or assault rifles. The restrictions apply to the purchase of ammunition for handguns as well.
However, there are no restrictions in Minnesota for ammunition purchased over the internet, but armor-piercing rounds may not be purchased. The ammunition can be sent directly to the purchaser's home. That is not the case for the purchase of firearms.
"You have to go to your local gun shop, have them fax the seller a copy of their federal license. Once they have that in their possession, they can ship the gun to the gun store and then, we do this quite a bit, we write it into our bound book. There is a record of it. When the customer comes in, they fill out the same form, do the same background check and in the case that we are in Minnesota, if it is a handgun, they have to have their 'permit to purchase'. Basically, it is just like they picked one out the case here," said Krause.
Two issues that arise are thorns in the side of the Federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) authorities. One is "Straw Sales" in which a qualified buyer purchases a firearm only to sell it to an unqualified individual, who could not pass the background checks. Krause insists his store works with the ATF to combat such sales.
"That has been a problem that the government has addressed," said Krause. "You cannot stop them all. You can do your best, but we work closely with the ATF in being up to speed in being able to spot that."
The other issue is "Private" sales, which are not regulated by the state of Minnesota. ATF spokespeople refer to such sales as the "Gun Show Loophole." The "loophole" is designed to allow people to buy, sell or trade guns with their neighbors, friends or family without additional permitting.
At gun shows, however, it is possible for someone to set up a table near licensed gun dealers and present themselves as private sellers, not subject to permitting.
"There is one federal law," said Krause, "that probably would be difficult for them to enforce, that states no citizen may knowingly transfer any firearm to somebody that they know is going to use it to commit a crime or that they know they have had convictions that, otherwise, they would not be able to buy the gun."
It is legal to sell and own assault rifles, like AR-15's, but fully automatic machine guns are another matter. "In Minnesota, machine guns can be owned by civilians only if they fall under the "Curio and Relics" status as defined by the ATF, which means, it is 50 years old or older, based on today's date, or it is on a specific list."
Krause said buying one of these weapons can be difficult because there is a "significant" background check. "I mean, it is fingerprints, photographs, it takes months. It is very, very, very tough," said Krause.
Krause said many in the public, even those intending to purchase firearms and unaware of the state laws. "They will come in. They will look at guns. They want a home defense gun or something like that. They will have no idea that they needed to have their 'permit to purchase' or any of that or that they had to complete the federal check or they were even prohibited for some reason or another."
Krause said his store does a great deal of gun law education.
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