My Sheriff finds the law inconvenient, breaks it


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Andrew Rothman
May 27, 2005, 06:45 PM
As I wrote in my blog (http://www.livejournal.com/users/mattpayne/)...

As rightwingguy reported in Joel Rosenberg's LiveJournal, the Carver County Sheriff's Department refused to accept applications for carry permits today. They were breaking the law when they did so.

You see, the legislature changed the form requirements in the most trivial way: You now have to put the cities as well as the counties and states where you've lived in the last five years. So I guess that means a whole new form.

The law was signed on Tuesday, and went into effect on Wednesday. Naturally, the sheriffs didn't have the new form with the trivial change (although the DPS had a good week to prepare the new form; it's not as if the governor was going to veto the carry law pushed for two years ago!)

Nonetheless, Minnesota Statutes, chapter 624, section 714 (the 2005 law) sets out the application process. It says:

Subd. 3. Form and contents of application. (a) Applications for permits to carry must be an official, standardized application form, adopted under section 624.7151, and must set forth in writing only the following information:

(1) the applicant's name, residence, telephone number, if any, and driver's license number or state identification card number;
(2) the applicant's sex, date of birth, height, weight, and color of eyes and hair, and distinguishing physical characteristics, if any;
(3) all states of residence of the applicant in the last ten years, though not including specific addresses;
(4) a statement that the applicant authorizes the release to the sheriff of commitment information about the applicant maintained by the commissioner of human services or any similar agency or department of another state where the applicant has resided, to the extent that the information relates to the applicant's eligibility to possess a firearm; and
(5) a statement by the applicant that, to the best of the applicant's knowledge and belief, the applicant is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm.

That "section 624.7151" bit is important. It says:

By December 1, 1992, the commissioner shall adopt statewide standards governing the form and contents, as required by sections 624.7131 to 624.714, of every application for a pistol transferee permit, pistol transferee permit, report of transfer of a pistol, application for a permit to carry a pistol, and permit to carry a pistol that is granted or renewed on or after January 1, 1993.

Every application for a pistol transferee permit, pistol transferee permit, report of transfer of a pistol, application for a permit to carry a pistol, and permit to carry a pistol that is received, granted, or renewed by a police chief or county sheriff on or after January 1, 1993, must meet the statewide standards adopted by the commissioner. Notwithstanding the previous sentence, neither failure of the Department of Public Safety to adopt standards nor failure of the police chief or county sheriff to meet them shall delay the timely processing of applications nor invalidate permits issued on other forms meeting the requirements of sections 624.7131 to 624.714.


I spoke with Mike Fahey, the Carver County Attorney. He was polite and pleasant. He confirmed that the Sheriff's department chose to wait for the new forms from the DPS. They received them on Friday and will be accepting applications on Tuesday.

I pointed out that, although it was a moot point at 3:30 on Friday, the law did not allow for the Sheriff to decide not to accept the old forms with the appropriate information (the town/township/city) written in.

He said that the state association of county attorneys and the Sheriff's association recommended waiting for the new forms.

Of course, as I told Mr. Fahey, neither trade association has any legal authority, and that their opinion was trumped by law.

He said he hadn't read 624.7151 yet. Sigh.

In truth, it was overly ambitious of the legislature to expect things to be up in a day, once the slightest change was made. A week would have been fair. Still, the law is the law.

I somehow doubt that the Sheriff would be as understanding if I broke, say, a speed law, because I found it inconvenient.

If you wanted to express to Mr. Fahey's office your concern that county departments follow the law, not their convenience, his email should be mfahey@co.carver.mn.us. His office number is (952) 361-1400.

If you wanted to remind Carver County Sheriff Bud Olson of the same thing, email him at bolson@co.carver.mn.us or call his office at 952-361-1205.

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Vernal45
May 27, 2005, 06:48 PM
WELL, I guess its all nice and Legal, since it was the sheriff breaking the law. :rolleyes:

2nd Amendment
May 27, 2005, 07:04 PM
Well I'll get slapped by both sides but frankly, guys, there are enough examples of police corruption, and more every day, without trying to make a mountain out a mole's dream about a mole hill like this. :) Really, Mr Sheriff covered his ass and nothing more. Calling it breaking the law is a stretch...

Andrew Rothman
May 27, 2005, 10:43 PM
Break the law is exactly what he did. He was required by law to accept applications Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and would not do so.

What would you call it?

(And incidentally, other metro departments accepted the old ones with no hassle!)

2nd Amendment
May 28, 2005, 12:00 AM
I'd call it exactly what I said, CYA. But if you really feel that waiting for the "proper" forms according to the new regulations is breaking the law then by all means, pursue the issue. Personally if I were applying for a CCW I'd have waited anyway specifically to avoid "modifying" the old forms and potentially having some SOB come back in a couple years telling me my CCW was not valid and I would be facing a felony weapons charge. Never mind the liklihood of beating such a wrap, it takes time and money to win.

My point is simply there's enough serious issues out there without haggling over a technicality that almost certainly made no real difference to anyone. it's not a defense, just prioritizing.

Lobotomy Boy
May 28, 2005, 01:01 AM
Technically he might have been breaking a law, but it does sound like classic CYA, and as far as breaking the law goes, I drive 10-15 mph over the legal limit every day on my way to and from work, as do 90 percent of the people on the freeway. I have two house cats and a parakeet, which puts me over the legal limit for pets in my city. In other words, like the vast majority of people, including the Carver Co. Sheriff and most likely everyone on this list, I disregard, if not complete laws, details of laws every single day.

That's not to condone flagrant violations of civil rights and laws--it's one thing to drive the speed of traffic on the freeway and quite another to tear through residential neighborhoods at 100 mph while children are riding their bikes on the street. But it seems to me that the sheriff's violation comes closer to the former example than the latter.

A man should choose his fights carefully, and this might not be the best fight to pick with the sheriff.

Andrew Rothman
May 28, 2005, 12:24 PM
I'd call it exactly what I said, CYA.
..by breaking the law!

But if you really feel that waiting for the "proper" forms according to the new regulations is breaking the law
It has nothing to do with my feelings: it's a fact.

then by all means, pursue the issue.

I did. I politely put the County Attorney on notice that we're watching -- even for samll transgressions. This may deter them from trying bigger ones.

HankB
May 28, 2005, 12:41 PM
This sounds like yet another in a long line of instances where the law requires certain actions from government functionaries, but establishes NO consequence whatsoever when they fail to take the actions required by law. :mad:

gc70
May 28, 2005, 01:01 PM
Matt, you are absolutely right - the sheriff did break the law by not accepting applications last week. And you did what any responsible citizen should do when they believe the law is being broken by contacting the proper authorities. If you think that the County Attorney was not appropriately responsive, then you should take further action. You could contact your legislators to urge a change in the law. Or you could contact the media to draw attention to the situation. Or you could start a grass-roots campaign for citizen action. Or you could just file one of the new applications on Tuesday.

Archie
May 28, 2005, 04:06 PM
How is this sheriff in terms of processing (legal) applications and issuing permits?

I tend to be more incensed over systemic violations of the spirit of the law than one-time violations of the letter of the law. If this guy is decent in issuing, give him a break; if he intentionally refuses to issue, make a stink and elect a new sheriff.

Andrew Rothman
May 28, 2005, 10:15 PM
Well, it's now (again) a shall-issue state, so he's fine, in that he generally follows the law.

I know this isn't the end of the world; applications will be accepted on Tuesday. It's more the ignorance of or contempt for the letter of the law that bugs me.

(My 2003 permit still has three years on it, so this isn't a personal fight for me; I just think right is right.)

Hawkmoon
May 29, 2005, 12:43 AM
Matt, I don't think I agree with your position. Read carefully the section of the law that you emphasized with bold face. It says that failure of the DPS to adopt standards shall not delay the processing of applications, and it says that failure of the DPS to adopt standards shall not invalidate permits ISSUED under previous forms.

So if the new law requires that applications be on a standard state form, and the new law requires that said form contain specific information which is NOT asked for on the current form -- how the heck can he accept an application without also breaking the law? The second half of what you emphasized doesn't pertain to applications, so focus on the first half. Looks to be like Mr. Sheriff was caught in one of those damned-if-I-do-and-damned-if-I-don't situations. Cut the guy some slack -- there's no way he could comply with the law. If he accepeted applications he would be acting on incomplete information (in violation of the law), yet if he refused to accept applications he would be violating the law by delaying an application.

Catch 22

gunsmith
May 29, 2005, 05:17 AM
is that if Matt or 2a or myself brake a stupid law we get creamed-but it's ok if you work for the gov :fire:

Andrew Rothman
May 29, 2005, 09:30 AM
So if the new law requires that applications be on a standard state form, and the new law requires that said form contain specific information which is NOT asked for on the current form -- how the heck can he accept an application without also breaking the law?

The app must be on a standard state form, and must contain the appropriate info. Nothing in the law invalidated an application in which the city is written next to the County box.

artherd
May 30, 2005, 06:24 PM
I have no sympathy for idoits in power.

If one branch passes laws that the other can't realistically enforce, FINE.

Prosecute, and fire all the individuals and disband their orignizations on both branches untill they elect people who can figure the process out!

You think I get to speed because if I didn't, I'd need to cover my ass for being late to work? Come on!


If the government were run like a business, there would be no need for a federal income tax at all, that is how efficent it would be.

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