St. Paul city leaders propose stricter gun storage with opposition

Proposed gun storage rule in St. Paul

Proposed gun storage rule in St. Paul

St. Paul City Council Members heard an amendment proposal to city ordinances that would require firearms to be safely stored and secured, with ammunition stored separately at a meeting Wednesday.

Last week, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and City Council Member Rebecca Noecker announced the proposed changes to chapter 225 of the Saint Paul Legislative Code of weapons discharge. They say it’s in an effort to reduce incidents of harm caused by the unlawful discharge of unsecured firearms. 

“Loose guns pose a danger to our entire community,” said Mayor Carter. “Responsible gun owners must do their part to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands.” 

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. 

“Last year, the Mayor asked that we consider actions that would reduce the number of guns stolen in our community and reduce the number of shots fired in our neighborhoods. This is especially important now that firearms are the leading cause of death for children in our country,” said Councilmember Noecker. “I am happy to partner with Moms Demand Action and my colleagues, Jane Prince and Nelsie Yang, to bring this critical next step to the City Council.”  

St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry also supports the amendment saying it’s an obvious step that can be taken to prevent a possible tragedy. 

Efforts to regulate gun storage met with resistance

Rob Doar with MN Gun Owners Caucus told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the proposed amendment is in clear violation of State Statues 471.633. According to state statutes, local government can only regulate the discharge of firearms and adopt regulations identical to state law.

“The ordinance is very clearly about storage of firearms, there’s nothing remotely related to the discharge of firearms,” Doar said. 

“The City of Saint Paul is preempted under state law from passing their own firearms regulation ordinances,” stated Bryan Strawser, Chair of MN Gun Owners Caucus. “They are attempting to skirt restrictions imposed by the state legislature on all cities by defining ‘discharge of a firearm’ to include storage provisions for firearms.” 

In a letter to Mayor Carter and the City Council, Doar wrote the proposed ordinance also infringes upon the Second Amendment rights of visitors to St. Paul and the city’s residents. 

“Requiring individuals to secure their firearms with a locking device and store ammunition separately, as proposed in the ordinance, would render firearms inaccessible or inoperable in emergencies,” the letter states. 

Doar added that enforcing the ordinance would likely necessitate allowing law enforcement or other government agents to search homes and vehicles, “which raises significant privacy concerns and potential civil liberties violations.” 

Doar said they’re prepared to challenge any changes to the ordinance in court. 

The proposed amendment will need to go through two more city council readings before they become official.