St. Paul City Council passes gun storage ordinance

The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday approved a measure that would impose stricter storage requirements on gun owners.

Under the amendment to the St. Paul Legislative Code, gun owners who leave their weapons where “another person who is not an authorized user is likely to gain access, including a vehicle,” could be found guilty of attempting to discharge a firearm. Gun owners are exempted if they use a gun lock or place their firearms in a locked container.

RELATED: St. Paul city leaders propose stricter gun storage with opposition

City leaders say unsecured firearms have placed an additional strain on officers who, since 2020, responded to over 5,000 calls for service where a firearm was reported to have been discharged. During the same timeframe, St. Paul Police have recovered 1,902 firearms, 150 of which were stolen, with 97 stolen from unattended vehicles. 

The ordinance passed by a unanimous 7-0 vote and now heads to Mayor Melvin Carter, who is expected to sign it into law. St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry has also expressed his support for the measure.

Several council members credited the gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action for their involvement in the process. Representatives from the group approached the podium after the vote to thank the council.

“Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Minnesota,” said Gretchen Damon with Moms Demand Action. “We must do better. With your vote today in favor of safe storage of firearms in St. Paul, we are not only doing better, you are saving lives.”

Damon also touched on two other gun control measures signed by Gov. Tim Walz this month: background checks for private gun sales and a “red flag law” that allows authorities to confiscate guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others.

“May is a very good month,” Damon said.

On the other hand, gun rights activists have opposed the St. Paul proposal, saying it violates Minnesota state law.

“The Council has been made keenly aware that the actions they are taking are unconstitutional and will be immediately voided by Minnesota’s state preemption law, leading us to believe they know they can’t actually enforce this ordinance,” Rob Doar, senior vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, wrote in a statement.

“In the unlikely event the city tries to enforce the unconstitutional provisions of this ordinance, we will be prepared to take swift legal action,” he added.