Firearm background check laws has been an ongoing debate in the United States for years.
Proponents of stricter background check rules believe that they can decrease overall gun violence in the United States. Opponents of background checks believe that more stringent firearm background checks simply make it harder for responsible gun owners to obtain firearms, violating their Second Amendment rights while having no effect on the majority of perpetrators of gun violence, who often obtain firearms illegally.
On August 1, 2023, a new Minnesota law went into effect that expanded disqualification criteria and added more steps to the private transfer/sale process for certain types of firearms.
What Does MN Statute 624.712 Do?
- Universal background checks are now required for transfers of pistols or military-style rifles to a private party
- Purchasers of pistols or semi-automatic military-style assault files must apply for a Permit to Purchase, even for private purchases
- Even private purchase transactions require a federal firearms licensed dealer for the background check if the purchaser doesn’t already have a Permit to Purchase or Permit to Carry (people who already have a Permit to Carry are not required to apply for a separate Permit to Purchase)
- Law enforcement have 30 days (up from seven days) to process the Permit to Purchase
- Disqualification criteria have been expanded to include people considered a danger to themselves or the public if they possess a firearm, as well as people listed in law enforcement’s criminal gang investigative data system
- Who is considered a danger to themselves, or the public, is largely based on law enforcement’s determination
- Law enforcement must provide a written notification of denial to the applicant should their application be rejected
- Applicants can submit additional documentation to appeal the denial within 20 business days of written notification but must pay their own legal fees and court costs
- Law enforcement aren’t required to reprocess an application if the applicant has been denied within the past six months due to previous decision
Universal Background Checks
One of the biggest changes is the expansion of background checks to cover all firearm transactions, including private transfers. This means that when an individual wants to sell or transfer a firearm to another person, a background check is now required if they don’t already have the necessary permit.
This expansion is designed to prevent individuals who would not pass a background check from acquiring firearms through unregulated channels.
Red Flag Laws
Red flag laws have also now been enforced in the state of Minnesota, which was one of the few states not to have some version of red flag laws prior to May 19, 2023, when Governor Tim Walz signed a wide-ranging public order for red flag and universal background check provisions.
These laws allow law enforcement to issue a temporary removal of firearms from a person whom they deem to be unfit to carry a gun. This may include people with severe mental health issues or those with a history of violent actions toward themselves or others.
The goal of red flag laws is to provide safety and peace of mind to the public, family members and victims of domestic violence and stalking. However, there is an ongoing debate over red flag laws and whether they violate due process and civil liberties in the United States.
Enhanced Reporting and Information Sharing
To improve the effectiveness of background checks, the state of Minnesota has encouraged federal agencies to share relevant data with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This is meant to ensure that individuals who should be prohibited from purchasing firearms are correctly identified when background checks take place.
How Do These Changes Impact Minnesota Residents?
The primary goal of the new legislation is to enhance public safety by reducing the chances of firearms falling into the hands of individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others. By expanding background checks for private transfers and implementing red flag laws, lawmakers hope to minimize the risks posed by individuals who should not possess firearms gaining access to them.
Get in Touch With an Experienced Lawyer With the Help of the Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS)
Changes in firearm background check laws are an ongoing process in the United States. By expanding background checks, introducing red flag laws and improving data sharing, lawmakers in Minnesota seek to establish a more robust system for regulating firearms while still protecting Second Amendment rights.
Good intentions don’t necessarily mean every person’s rights will be respected. If you have been targeted with false allegations that have led to the removal of your firearms, or you believe you have been unjustly deemed a danger to yourself or others, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney.
The Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) is dedicated to connecting Minneapolis–St. Paul residents with reliable legal representation. Start by reaching out to us at (612) 752-6699 and our referral advisors will help you find a lawyer experienced with cases like yours.