In recent days, a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has been slamming Target for its in-store gun policy. (The group also sounded the alarm yesterday after news broke about a loaded gun being found in an unwrapped toy box in the toy aisle at a South Carolina Target.)
Target's policy, essentially, is not to have one. No guns or ammunition are sold in stores, but as far as carrying firearms is concerned, the company's policy is to simply follow the pertinent state and federal laws. As a private company, Target could choose to ban firearms in stores, but for whatever reason company higher-ups have elected not to take that step.
What this means is that in Minnesota, firearm permit holders can legally tote so-called "long guns" such as rifles, shotguns, and BB guns down store aisles if they choose to do so.
Minnesota's statute pertaining to "rifles and shotguns in public places" says, "Whoever carries a BB gun, rifle, or shotgun on or about the person in a public place is guilty of a gross misdemeanor." But the definition of "carry" exempts "the carrying of a BB gun, rifle, or shotgun by a person who has a permit."
Another statute pertaining to the "carrying of weapons without permit" contains a lot of language about "pistols," but doesn't address long guns specifically. So statute is ambiguous. But a recent memo from the League of Minnesota Cities addressing the ambiguity clearly states, "A carry permit is a license allowing a person to carry a pistol or long gun in public."
Bryan Strawser is executive director and treasurer of the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee and also teaches NRA gun safety classes. He agrees with the League of Minnesota Cities' interpretation that carrying long guns is legal in places like Target for permit holders. (The NRA's webpage on Minnesota gun laws falsely states that permit holders can't carry long guns in Minnesota -- Strawser says he'll contact the organization in hopes that'll get corrected.)
"According to Minnesota law, the carry permit applies to long guns and handguns," Strawser says. "So if you have someone carrying a rifle in Minnesota, that's perfectly legal under current law."
However, Strawser acknowledges, "It's definitely rare to see somebody carrying a rifle outside of hunting or a shooting range," adding that while it may be legal to do so, he doesn't advise it.
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"Seeing such a thing is so rare that the reaction of an average person can be to call law enforcement," Strawser says. "The property owner can ask someone to leave or post a sign, but the action itself is legal."
We contacted Target to get the company's official response to our findings.
"At Target, the safety and security of our guests and team members is our highest priority," spokesperson Molly Snyder wrote back. "Target does not sell firearms or ammunition and, as it relates to this issue, we follow all state and federal laws."