See our Concealed Weapons Permitting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Minnesota requires that a person have a valid permit to possess or control a concealable firearm in a public place.
Minnesota is, generally, a “shall issue” state, meaning that the county sheriff must issue a permit to carry a handgun if the applicant meets certain qualifications. When an applicant applies for a permit to carry a handgun, the county sheriff must issue a license if the applicant:
• Is at least 21 years old;
• Is a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.;
• Has training in the safe use of a handgun;
• Is not prohibited from possessing a firearm because the applicant:
o Has not committed an assault in the fifth degree;
o Has not committed an assault upon a family member;
o Has not violated an order of protection within the past three years;
o Has not committed a stalking crime;
o Is not a nonresident alien;
o Is not currently under arrest for a crime against the person;
o Is not currently released on bail for domestic abuse, harassment, violation of an order for protection, or violation of a domestic abuse no contact order;
o Is not prohibited from possessing a firearm by any federal law; or
o Is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm by Minnesota Statutes § 624.713 (see Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Minnesota for a full list of prohibited persons); and
• Is not listed in the criminal gang investigative data system.
Note that a sheriff has limited discretion to deny a permit to carry only if there is a “substantial likelihood” that the applicant would be a danger to herself, himself or others if authorized to carry a handgun.
To ensure that the applicant is qualified for a permit to carry a handgun, the sheriff is required to check criminal histories, records and warrant information relating to the applicant through the Minnesota Crime Information System, and to the extent necessary, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) and commitment information through the state Commissioner of Human Services. The sheriff must also notify the chief of police of the municipality where the applicant resides, so as to give the chief the opportunity to provide any relevant information. At least once annually, the sheriff must conduct a background check on a permit holder through the Minnesota Crime Information System and, to the extent necessary, NICS, to ensure continuing eligibility, and may conduct additional background checks at any time the permit is in effect. A person who carries, holds or possesses a handgun in a motor vehicle, snowmobile or boat, or on or about the person’s clothes or person, or otherwise in possession or control in a public place without having a permit to carry the handgun is criminally liable for a gross misdemeanor; subsequent offenses are felonies.
A permit is not required to carry a handgun:
• About a person’s place of business, residence, or land that he or she owns;
• From a place of purchase to the person’s dwelling or place of business, or from the person’s dwelling or business to or from a place of repair;
• Between the person’s dwelling and place of business;
• In the woods, fields, or waters of the state for the purpose of hunting or target shooting in a safe area; or
• In a motor vehicle, snowmobile or boat if it is unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gun box, or securely tied package.
The sheriff’s failure to notify an applicant that the application has been denied within 30 days of receipt of the application constitutes issuance of the permit to carry and the sheriff must promptly mail the permit to the applicant.
Firearm Safety Training
Applicants for a permit to carry must have training in the safe use of a handgun within the past year of an original or renewal application. Such training may be demonstrated by: 1) employment as a peace officer in Minnesota within the past year; or 2) completion of a firearms safety or training course providing basic training in the safe use of a handgun, conducted by a certified instructor.
Basic handgun safety training must include:
• Instruction in the fundamentals of handgun use;
• Successful completion of an actual shooting qualification exercise; and
• Instruction in the fundamental legal aspects of handgun possession, carrying, and use, including self-defense and the restrictions on the use of deadly force.
Instructors must issue a certificate to any person who has completed a firearms safety or training course, which must be signed by the instructor and attest that the person attended and completed the course.
This requirement does not apply in the case of an emergency permit, which a sheriff may immediately issue if the sheriff determines that the person is in an emergency situation that may constitute an immediate risk to the safety of the person or someone in the person’s household.
Duration & Renewal
A permit to carry remains in effect for up to five years after the date it is issued and may be renewed “in the same manner and under the same criteria which the original permit was obtained.” An emergency permit is valid for 30 days and may not be renewed.
Disclosure or Use of Information
All data pertaining to applications for permits to carry firearms which are collected by state agencies, political subdivisions or statewide systems pursuant to Minnesota Statutes §§ 624.712 to 624.719 are classified as “private.” Thus, that data is not available to the public, but is accessible to the subject of the data. In addition, data on persons permitted to carry handguns under the terms of a permit must be shared as required by Minnesota Statutes § 624.714, subd. 6, which requires the sheriff issuing, suspending, or revoking a permit to forward that information to the Commissioner of Public Safety (“Commissioner”).
The Commissioner must maintain a database available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, only to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to verify the validity of a permit. The Commissioner may also keep a database of permits that were denied or revoked, including the date of, and reasons for, denial or revocation, for six years from the denial or revocation. This database may be available only to sheriffs performing their duties related to permits to carry handguns.
The Commissioner is required to report yearly to the state legislature information regarding permits and permit holders, but “without expressly identifying an applicant.” Sheriffs and police chiefs must supply the Department of Public Safety with the basic data required to complete this report, including data classified as private. Copies of the report must be made available to the public. The current report states, among other things, that 20,772 5-year permits were issued in 2011.
A sheriff must not maintain records or data collected, made or held concerning an applicant or permit holder that are not necessary to support a permit that is outstanding or eligible for renewal. In addition, a sheriff must completely purge all files and databases yearly to delete all information collected concerning persons who are no longer current permit holders or currently eligible to renew their permit. These requirements do not apply, however, to records or data concerning an applicant or permit holder who has had a permit denied or revoked for lack of safe training in the use of a firearm, or because there exists a substantial likelihood that the applicant is a danger to himself or herself or the public if authorized to carry a handgun, for six years from the denial or revocation.
Finally, notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the Minnesota Commissioner of Health is prohibited from collecting data related to an individual’s right to carry a weapon.
The Commissioner of Public Safety must annually establish and publish a list of states whose permits are “not substantially similar” to Minnesota permit requirements. All state permits not on this list are valid if the permit holder is not prohibited from possessing a firearm. The Commissioner must, when necessary, execute reciprocity agreements regarding carry permits with jurisdictions whose carry permits are recognized by Minnesota.