Minnesota does not generally ban assault weapons, but has adopted a series of statutes regulating the possession and sale of certain “semiautomatic military-style assault weapons.” A firearm is considered a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon if it is on the list of over two dozen named types of regulated firearms, or is another model of a listed firearm, is made by the same manufacturer as the listed firearm, has the same action design, and
• Is a redesigned, renamed, or renumbered version; or
• Has a slight modification or enhancement (such as a folding or retractable stock; adjustable sight; case deflector for left-handed shooters; shorter barrel; wooden, plastic, or metal stock; larger clip size; different caliber; or a bayonet mount).
Moreover, a firearm is also classified as a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon if it was manufactured or sold under a licensing agreement with a manufacturer of one of the listed firearms to manufacture or sell firearms that are identical or nearly identical to a listed firearm or a firearm described above.
A firearm that is generally recognized as “particularly suitable or readily adaptable to sporting purposes” or any of its regulations is not a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon.
In addition, Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is required to publish a list of firearms included within the definition of semiautomatic military-style assault weapon. The Bureau is required to update the list annually.
Minnesota prohibits the possession of semiautomatic military-style assault weapons by persons who are under 18 years of age. Such persons may carry or possess a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon only:
• In the actual presence or under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian;
• For the purposes of a military drill while under competent supervision, under the auspices of a legally recognized military organization;
• For instruction, competition or target practice under direct supervision on a law enforcement-approved firing range; or
• Upon successful completion of a course designed to teach marksmanship and safety with a handgun or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon and approved by the state commissioner of natural resources.
A person charged with a crime punishable by more than one year imprisonment may not receive, ship, or transport a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon.
A person who wishes to acquire a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon may apply to his or her local chief of police or county sheriff for a transferee permit, although a transferee permit is not required for purchase of such weapons. See Licensing of Gun Purchasers or Owners in Minnesota for further information.
With certain limited exceptions, if a person wishes to acquire a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon from a federally licensed dealer, but does not have a transferee permit or a permit to carry a handgun, the dealer must file a report with the police chief or sheriff, who then performs a background check. See Background Checks in Minnesota for further information.
A person commits a gross misdemeanor if he or she intentionally transfers a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon to a person he or she knows:
• Has been denied a permit to carry a weapon because the transferee is not eligible under Minnesota law to possess an assault weapon; or
• Has been found ineligible to possess an assault weapon by law enforcement as a result of an application for a transferee permit or transfer report.
See our Assault Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.