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GOCRA Briefing: Landlords Cannot Legally Ban Carry in Common Areas

Mall of America sign

Mall of America sign. Wikipedia photo by Joe Chill 2

The Mall of America has been in the news recently, after it was named as a possible target of an attack by al-Shabaab terrorists1. The group claimed responsibility for a 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in which 63 shoppers were killed and over 175 more were injured by four terrorists armed with grenades and rifles.2 Mall management continues to insist that it retains the right to ban visitors from legally carrying pistols into the mall.3 An analysis of Minnesota law reveals that they are mistaken: the law precludes the mall from banning legal carry.

Private Businesses Can Ban Carry – Sometimes

The Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act of 20034 allows certain types of private entities to remove individuals carrying under the terms of the law:

Subd. 17. Posting; trespass. (a) A person carrying a firearm on or about his or her person or clothes under a permit or otherwise who remains at a private establishment knowing that the operator of the establishment or its agent has made a reasonable request that firearms not be brought into the establishment may be ordered to leave the premises. A person who fails to leave when so requested is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.5

The statute goes on to define in great detail the form that the notification and request must take, including the placement and content of signs, means of verbal notification, and some special exclusions.

Landlords Can’t Ban Carry!

One of those exclusions relates directly to landlords, who are specifically barred from restricting lawful carry:

(e) A landlord may not restrict the lawful carry or possession of firearms by tenants or their guests.6

Landlords are also barred from attempting an end-run around the statute:

(f) Notwithstanding any inconsistent provisions in section 609.605, this subdivision sets forth the exclusive criteria to notify a permit holder when otherwise lawful firearm possession is not allowed in a private establishment and sets forth the exclusive penalty for such activity.

No Absurd Results

Minnesota law provides very clear instructions for interpretation of its various provisions:

645.17 PRESUMPTIONS IN ASCERTAINING LEGISLATIVE INTENT. (1) the legislature does not intend a result that is absurd, impossible of execution, or unreasonable; (2) the legislature intends the entire statute to be effective and certain;7 <…>

A prohibition on carry in common areas would effectively prevent tenants and their guests from reaching the tenant spaces. This is the quintessential definition of an “absurd, impossible of execution” result that renders a portion of the law meaningless, in contradiction of the Legislature’s intent for “…the entire statute to be effective….” Because carry cannot be prohibited in the tenants’ private spaces, carry cannot be banned in the common areas required to reach those spaces.   This analysis is provided as general information, but it is not legal advice. Individual circumstances may result in different legal outcomes. If you plan to visit the Mall of America while carrying, given the mall’s repeated declarations that they have the power to ban guns in common areas of the mall, you should consult an attorney licensed in Minnesota. ________________ 1 Google News: “Mall of America” “Al-Shabaab” (https://www.google.com/search?q=”mall+of+america”+”al-shabaab”) 2 “Westgate shopping mall attack,” Wikipedia. Retrieved Feb. 24, 2015 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westgate_shopping_mall_attack) 3 “Security Information,” Mall of America Web site. Retrieved Feb. 24, 2015 (http://www.mallofamerica.com/guests/security) 4 2003 Minnesota Session Laws, Chapter 28-S.F.No. 842 (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/laws/?id=28&year=2003&type=0) 5 Minnesota Statutes 2014, Chapter 624.714, Subd. 17 (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=624.714#stat.624.714.17) 6 Ibid, paragraph (e) 7 Ibid, paragraph (f) 8 Minnesota Statutes 2014, Chapter 645.17 (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=645.17)
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