Is open carry of firearms legal in Minneapolis parks?
June 1, 2016 7:48 AM   Subscribe

I witnessed this recently and am wondering what response, if any, was warranted?

While dining at the Sea Salt restaurant at Minnehaha Falls, I observed a man carrying a holstered sidearm. He did not appear to be law enforcement, on or off duty. He was there with several young children. I am ignorant of the details of MN's firearm laws especially with respect to open carry because it really isn't ever seen here much. I found the experience unsettling to say the least, but I did not know if I would be justified in calling 911. This is at a privately owned restaurant that operates in agreement with the public parks. It is located in a pavilion in a public park.
posted by werkzeuger to Law & Government (12 answers total)
A few miles north of there, but my local paper had an editorial about open carrying fire arms in MN. The top quote being:
Man had the right to do what he did. But there was no good reason to do it. Unless, of course, you define "good" as needlessly intimidating fellow citizens followed by the filing of needless lawsuits.
posted by jillithd at 7:50 AM on June 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Here's the laws from the MN website. People with permits can do that. It's been a contentious thing in the state.
posted by jessamyn at 7:50 AM on June 1, 2016

Per Wikipedia, there are 200,000-plus people with carry permits in Minnesota. Pistols are legal to carry, except for schools, hospitals, courts, and places like those.
posted by Etrigan at 7:51 AM on June 1, 2016

But businesses can post signs refusing admission to people carrying guns.

Effects on Businesses

Employers and private business owners (building owners, operators and tenants but not landlords) may ban guns on their premises if they comply with certain notice requirements. The act states that, "An employer, whether public or private, may establish policies that restrict the carry[ing] or possession of firearms by its employees while acting in the course and scope of employment."4 However, an employer may not prohibit guns in "a parking facility or parking area."5

The act does not define the term "course and scope of employment." Nonetheless, under common law, the phrase "course and scope of employment" loosely means acts by an employee relating to his or her duties as an employee and "within the work-related limits of time and place."5 An employer is presumably able to ban guns not just on its work premises (excluding parking lots), but also in a vehicle or on the employee's person if the employee is "off-site" performing duties on behalf of the employer and that relate to actual job directions or assignments. The difficult question then becomes, "what about an employee who uses a vehicle to perform his or her duties some of the time but parks the vehicle in the parking lot while on-site?" The employer should at least be able to require the worker to store any permitted handgun in the trunk of the worker's car and can probably ban handguns (under an employee policy) from any company-owned vehicle.

The act allows "employers" to regulate possession of guns only by "employees." Until the courts or Legislature clarify this provision, this may mean that businesses are not allowed to implement workplace policies banning independent contractors, temporary employees and job applicants from carrying a gun on premises, unless of course, they have an overall "premises" ban in place as described below.

Like employers, business owners may also restrict individuals from carrying guns on-site if the operator of the establishment makes a "reasonable request that firearms not be brought into the establishment." To satisfy the "reasonable request" requirement, the private establishment must:

1) have a conspicuous sign posted at every entrance to the establishment that states, "[name of the company] bans guns in these premises." The sign(s) must be in black Arial typeface at lease 11/2 inches in height against a bright contrasting background that is at least 187 square inches in area (which translates to an 11x17 sign). The sign(s) must be readily visible and within four feet laterally of each entrance with the bottom of each sign at a height of four to six feet above the floor;


2) personally inform the person of the posted request and demand his or her compliance.

Proper notice is given only if the operator of the establishment does both -- posts the requisite sign and personally informs the person of the posted request and demands his or her compliance.7

Minimizing Risk

Concerned employers and business establishments can help reduce risk by taking a few simple steps:

Amend employee handbooks to include a policy banning employees from carrying guns on work premises (excluding parking lots) and off-site while performing tasks on behalf of the employer relating to the employee's job duties. The policy should specifically reserve the employer's right to inspect employee workstations, purses, and briefcases on premises, and state that an employee's failure to comply with such policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Employees should be required to sign an acknowledgment stating that they received a copy of the employer's policy, understand it, and agree to abide by such policy.
While it appears that an employee policy banning guns on work premises may not cover temporary employees and independent contractors, employers should be able to modify their contracts with temporary placement agencies and independent contractors to add language restricting guns on work premises.
Institute a "premises ban" by posting signs at each entrance to notify the public of the gun ban on their premises. In addition, the operator of the business establishment will need to personally inform each person of the gun ban either verbally or in writing (for example, by giving each visitor a post-card notifying him or her of the gun ban, or providing a "guest book" for visitors to sign containing the gun ban notice).

While taking all of the above measures does not eradicate all risks associated with guns in the workplace and on business premises, it minimizes an employer or business owner's exposure to gun-related incidents and thereby reduces at lease some of the risk of gun-related liability for Minnesota businesses.

After the law went through in the early 2000s, virtually every business I frequent put up a sign banning guns on the premises. I expect that if folks start seeing open-carry dudes like this guy more often, there will be more signs - people may have lightened up in the past few years since there weren't a lot of people trying to carry guns around.

Basically, at least in MPLS-St Paul, if you're carrying a gun you can't go into most places (or at least you are not supposed to....god knows what people with concealed weapons actually do) and I feel like this has had a discouraging effect - not much use wandering around with your gun if you can't stop at the convenience store.

My thought is that if you are in a business and there's a person in the business carrying a gun, you should talk to the manager and see whether they've posted the sign. If they haven't, I would let them know that you won't be coming back.

Eeesh. If Sea Salt really does allow customers with guns around the place, I sure won't be going there or recommending it any time soon.
posted by Frowner at 8:08 AM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sea Salt is in a Park. I wasnt there with the OP but it would seem like, whether anyone likes it or not, carrying a legal firearm in a park is permissable, and the owners at Sea Salt could have barred the man from entering the indoor area where you order and pick up food, but not the adjacent outdoor seating area/park? maybe someone with specific legal expertise can speak to whether the patio area is considered park or part of the business, but having eaten there before it is easily believable that werkzeuger was sitting "inside" the gun-free restaurant seating but within view of the carrying man in the park itself. refusing to patronize the business for this would be like objecting to a coffee shop because you didnt like the t shirt of a person walking by on the sidewalk (if sea salt encouraged people to open carry in their establishment that would be very very different).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:18 AM on June 1, 2016

Best answer: Eeesh. If Sea Salt really does allow customers with guns around the place, I sure won't be going there or recommending it any time soon.

Given Sea Salt's location/status, I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't allowed to enforce restrictions beyond what the parks themselves do, and I'm not finding anything in the Minneapolis ordinances that would bar people with permits from carrying in parks (not that I did an exhaustive search, but it stands to reason that the 2nd amendment types would be pretty pissed if they couldn't "exercise their rights" in the most public of public spaces). Your best bet is to call Sea Salt and ask what the deal is.

That being said: You're always justified in calling 911 if you perceive a danger. Don't exaggerate or anything, but let the operator know what you are seeing. Let law enforcement make the call as to whether this is something worth checking up on.

That being said: I know a number of permit to carry holders in Minnesota, and they have different attitudes about what are appropriate situations to carry in. I can tell you that the types who think that it's ever appropriate to open carry are just desperate for some kind of confrontation. Whether it's someone calling them out on it, or even just disapproving glances -- they consider freaking out the "libtards" to be a win.

I understand why seeing someone carrying a firearm is threatening and can be scary. But don't let them see your fear. Make a discrete 911 call if necessary, but then do everything in your power to just ignore them. Don't change tables or stare or talk in hushed voices about how "inappropriate" you think it is.

Remember that these folks (as opposed to the concealed carry types) are pathetic enough to need to advertise to the world that they are carrying a lethal weapon. They want the attention. Don't give it to them.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:41 AM on June 1, 2016 [17 favorites]

Response by poster: Exceptional_Hubris and especially sparklemotion are teasing out the issues I have been mulling over. The restaurant is in a public park, and this was on the upper terrace, where Sea Salt has seating but outside of their building. I was dimly aware that MN allows open carry, and I assumed it was technically legal in a public park (but hoping there was special limitations). I agree with what sparklemotion said re: open carry types and I wouldn't dream of confronting this asshat, but I did consider making that discreet call to 911. What do you think the 911 response would have been?

Just to be clear, this was full-on open carry - a green nylon handgun in a belt holster, on a guy who was having dinner with his family. The color of the gun, lack of badge plus the kids made me reasonably sure he wasn't off-duty LEO or something.
posted by werkzeuger at 9:25 AM on June 1, 2016

Response by poster: Also, I don't think Sea Salt has a "no guns" sign. The pavillion they are located in is owned by the Park Board, I believe they rent it as part of their agreement with the board.
posted by werkzeuger at 9:30 AM on June 1, 2016

That being said: You're always justified in calling 911 if you perceive a danger. Don't exaggerate or anything, but let the operator know what you are seeing. Let law enforcement make the call as to whether this is something worth checking up on.

In an age where the police often escalate standard confrontations to violence, I would think long and hard about doing this to someone who simply has different feelings on firearms then you.

If you, in fact, feel actively threatened by this person's behavior, of course call. I would not call the police as an expression of your disagreement with someone's firearms ownership.
posted by so fucking future at 9:42 AM on June 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

In an age where the police often escalate standard confrontations to violence, I would think long and hard about doing this to someone who simply has different feelings on firearms then you.

If the person carrying the firearm isn't white, a 911 call like this has a nonzero chance of resulting in extrajudicial murder. It's not a "see something, say something" situation--please hold off unless the person is doing something actually threatening.
posted by praemunire at 12:43 PM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I checked with my friend who used to be a 911 dispatcher in Minneapolis. According to her, they would definitely send the police if they received a call like this ("Hi, I'm at this park, and someone is here openly displaying a handgun in a holster"). The thinking being that it makes sense to have an actual officer go and investigate.

I'm of the belief that someone who chooses to openly carry a firearm has taken an affirmative step towards consenting to increased law enforcement scrutiny. If that person has a permit, then they had to take a class*, and part of those classes is how to handle interactions with law enforcement while carrying. This is not some drunk guy messing with his buddy in an ambulance.

So, werkzeuger, know that if you had called 911, a police officer would have shown up. I think that would have been fine, because this person made you feel unsettled, not because he owned a gun, but because of the way that he chose to use it.

*there are exceptions, but the exceptions are for LEOs, military folks, etc, so my point still applies.
posted by sparklemotion at 5:32 PM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: sparklemotion's eloquent answers pretty much wrapped this up for me. Since we're now into derails about who does and doesn't get to be a public bully under guise of the 2nd amendment, I'll mark this resolved.
posted by werkzeuger at 5:33 PM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

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