MN: Star Tribune admits sheriffs have no problems with CCW


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Monkeyleg
July 15, 2004, 11:53 PM
Sheriffs adjusting to gun-law ruling
Tony Kennedy,_ Star Tribune
July 15, 2004 GUN0715
_
As county sheriffs across the state scramble to figure out if and when to issue permits to carry guns, many say the gun law struck down this week as unconstitutional didn't pose the threat to public safety that some feared it would.

Traverse County Sheriff Don Montonye said he resisted the 2003 law, which made it easier for citizens to carry firearms, because it stripped sheriffs and police chiefs of some discretion to deny applicants. But after adapting to the new law, he'd prefer to stick with it, he said.

"It's kind of frustrating," said Montonye, whose county has the highest number of gun-carrying permits per capita in Minnesota. "We put in a good system and things were running smoothly."

Ramsey County District Judge John Finley ruled the law unconstitutional Tuesday. He sided with a coalition of religious congregations, social-service agencies and the city of Minneapolis in a lawsuit against the state that alleged the 2003 law was unfairly rammed through the Legislature while attached to an unrelated Department of Natural Resources bill.

Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch said he would appeal the ruling within days. While preparations for the appeal continued Wednesday, Hatch continued to advise sheriffs and local police chiefs in Minnesota to revert to the old way of granting permits.

On Wednesday, law enforcement officials scrambled to adjust. Jim Franklin, executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs Association, said members were seeking answers to many questions. He said a lot of sheriffs are hoping that the attorney general's appeal, once made, will suspend Finley's ruling until higher courts settle the issue.

In the meantime, some sheriffs are advising potential permit applicants to wait for the dust to settle in the courts. Other sheriffs immediately reverted to issuing permits under terms of the old law. Permits under the old law were cheaper and issuance was at the discretion of sheriffs and police chiefs, but the validations under the old law were only good for one year instead of the newer law's five years.

Counties react

In Hennepin County, Sheriff's Department Sgt. Haans Vitek said officials are waiting for more clarification from the courts before acting on new permit applications.

"We won't approve or deny them until we get further guidance on how it will play out," Vitek said.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said his department has reverted to issuing gun-carrying permits under terms of the old law.

Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said he didn't have any problems with either of the laws. But he is hoping for suspension of Finley's order because "we're all set up for the 2003 law and it seems to be working very well for us."

In Red Wing, Goodhue County Sheriff Dean Albers said he didn't like losing the discretion to deny carrying permits when the new law went into effect in May 2003. The change established a system requiring sheriffs to honor permit requests by all citizens 21 and over who are trained in the safe use of a pistol and who are not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm.

"I would still like to have some of the discretion returned to us," Albers said. "But on the whole it has gone pretty well."

He said he has had to issue some permits to applicants whom he would have denied under the old law. But no one who obtained a permit under the new law has caused any problems, Albers said.

Like other sheriffs, Albers said he liked the training requirement in the 2003 law. So he will continue to require it.

Beltrami County Sheriff Keith Winger said he issued far fewer carrying permits after the law changed in 2003 because the price of a permit in his county soared from nothing to $200 -- half for gun training and half for an administrative fee.

He said he rarely denied an applicant under the old law, but that he missed having the discretion to deny gun-carrying permits to "the guy who isn't a felon, but a nut."

In Stillwater, Washington County Sheriff Jim Frank said his department has already shifted to issuing gun-carrying permits under terms of the old law. County sheriffs were given sole jurisdiction to issue the permits when the law changed in 2003, so shifting back to the old law requires that sheriffs once again share the permitting responsibilities with local police chiefs.

No major problems

Frank said the jury is still out on which system of issuing gun-carrying permits is safer for the overall public. The sheriff said he didn't want to lose discretion to deny permits when the law changed in 2003, but he hasn't seen problems materialize from the sharp increase in the number of permits he has had to issue.

Olmsted County Sheriff Steve Borchardt in Rochester said he is advising citizens in his jurisdiction not to apply for a carrying permit for "a couple of weeks" until the issue gets more attention in court.

He said he was concerned about losing local discretion to deny gun-carrying permits when the law changed in 2003, but he favors the new gun-training requirement and hasn't seen public safety suffer.

"I was concerned there was not enough local denial discretion, and I would still like a little, but it hasn't been a problem," Borchardt said.

Tony Kennedy is at tonyk@startribune.com_

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Standing Wolf
July 16, 2004, 12:09 AM
"I would still like to have some of the discretion returned to us," Albers said. "But on the whole it has gone pretty well."

and

He said he was concerned about losing local discretion to deny gun-carrying permits when the law changed in 2003...

What they're actually talking about is power: plain old-fashioned power over commoners. They've got no choice but to admit shall issue in Minnesota, as everywhere else in the nation, has worked out well, but they still feel entitled to whine about it.

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