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GOCRA Briefing: Long Gun Purchase in Non-Contiguous States

House File 830 (Lucero)/Senate File 900 (Schmit) fixes 1969 wording in Minnesota law that has been out of date and confusing since 1986.

It legal for a Minnesotan to buy a rifle or shotgun in any state

Under both federal and Minnesota law, it is legal for a Minnesotan to buy a “long gun” in any state. Unfortunately, the state law is confusing to read, because it is based on a federal law that changed 29 years ago.   Federal Law – 1968 The federal Gun Control Act of 1968[1] restricted sales of long guns to persons who lived in the state where the gun was sold. It also allowed the sale to residents of contiguous states – states touching the seller’s state – as long as the transaction weren’t forbidden under either state’s law.   Minnesota Law – 1969 No Minnesota law barred such a sale, so in 1969, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law[2] to clearly confirm that such a sale was legal. There was no policy change, just an easy-to-read confirmation.   Federal Law – 1986 The federal Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986[3] removed the restriction limiting long gun sales to only contiguous states. This once again allowed a Minnesotan to purchase a long gun in any state in the country.   Minnesota’s obsolete law confuses licensed dealers2015-leg-contiguous-1 Federally licensed dealers rely on a 500-page book[4] from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Explosives (BATFE) which reprints every gun law from every state. In the Minnesota section, a licensed dealer finds the citation to the left. What started out as a clear, permissive confirmation now appears to a non-lawyer as a limitation to contiguous state sales, although no such limitation exists. To once again clearly explain existing law, and again without changing policy, changing the words “a contiguous state” to “any state” in this statute would once again ensure that Minnesotans can exercise their constitutional rights. _________________________ [1] Public Law 90-618, October 22, 1968 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-82/pdf/STATUTE-82-Pg1213-2.pdf) [2] H.F. 543, 1969 (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/laws/?id=216&year=1969&type=0), coded as MN Stat. 624.71 (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=624.71) [3] Public Law 99-308, May 19, 1986 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-100/pdf/STATUTE-100-Pg449.pdf) [4] State Laws and Published Ordinances — Firearms, 2010 – 2011 — 31st Edition (https://www.atf.gov/publications/firearms/state-laws/31st-edition/index.html)
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