Federal judge strikes down Minnesota’s age requirement for gun permits

A federal judge has struck down Minnesota’s minimum age requirement for getting a permit to carry in the state.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Katherine Menendez on Friday cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in a New York case last year in her decision, saying the New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen “compels the conclusion that Minnesota’s permitting age restriction is unconstitutional.”

Among the state’s requirements for any resident wanting to get a permit to carry has been a mandate stating the applicant must be at least 21 years old.

Menendez wrote in her opinion that that age requirement violates the rights of Minnesotans who are 18 to 20 years old, as guaranteed by the Second and 14th Amendments.

Her decision immediately prevents the state and local sheriffs, who issue the permits, from denying a permit to carry application soley based on someone being younger than 21 as long as they’re also at least 18.

The lawsuit was filed by a few Minnesotans who are older than 18 but under 21 who say they want to carry pistols for self-defense. The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition also joined as plaintiffs.

“This is a resounding victory for 18-20-year-old adults who wish to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms, ” Bryan Strawser, the chair of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, said in a statement Friday.

“This decision should serve as a warning to anti-gun politicians in Minnesota that the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus and its allies will not hesitate to take legal actions against unconstitutional infringements on the Second Amendment rights of Minnesotans, ” Rob Doar, the group’s senior vice president and political director, added.

Last year, 65,257 gun permits were issued in Minnesota, which is on par with the state’s average in previous years. However, both 2020 and 2021 saw record levels of gun permits issued, with more than 200,000 issued in the state across those two years.

The ruling also comes just a day after former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords joined Gov. Tim Walz at the Minnesota Capitol to talk about gun safety measures, something Walz and DFL state lawmakers have supported and state Republicans have generally opposed.

With the DFL holding a slim majority in each chamber of the Minnesota Legislature this year, gun safety measures like red flag laws and increased background checks could find their way to the governor’s desk, although lawmakers have less than two months to make that happen.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it is still reviewing Menendez’s full order.

Rep. Dave Pinto (DFL-St. Paul), who is the lead author of a bill that would require criminal background checks on all gun purchases and private transfers, sent the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Friday:

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent major changes in how it interprets the Second Amendment make it all the more important that states take advantage of the opportunities that they still have to keep their residents safe – policies like criminal background checks and red flag laws. We can and must do more to keep guns out of the hands of people who have shown themselves to be dangerous. Today’s ruling – and the ongoing deaths from guns in our country – makes that need clearer than ever.”

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has also reached out to the governor’s office and representatives for DFL and Republican state lawmakers and will update this story if any additional comments are received.

Read Menendez’s full ruling below or by clicking here.