Thursday, August 2, 2012

Metro area cities must now allow the public to use gun ranges for safety training
by Anne Finn and Rob Boe, League of Minnesota Cities

A small provision in the Minnesota State Legislature's recent omnibus game and fish bill may cause headaches for some metro area cities. Chapter 277 (HF 2171) requires shooting ranges in the seven-county metro area that are owned or operated by a public entity to allow public access four times per year, twice in spring, twice in fall, for Department of Natural Resources firearm safety training.

The law provides two exceptions: Minneapolis and St. Paul are exempt, as are facilities that are on the same premises as a correctional or detention facility that holds or incarcerates offenders. The range operator may charge a fee to cover any costs directly incurred from use required under this section, but may not charge a fee to offset costs for general maintenance and operation of the facility.
Initially, the bill applied to all publicly funded ranges, even those in corrections facilities.

Police chiefs and the League of Minnesota Cities oppose the shooting range mandate, but made clear the objection is not to firearm safety training. Simply stated, many facilities were not built with the intent to make them open to the public. Many that are conducive to public use are already offering it.

While the new law was passed without an effective date, it is a policy provision. The default effective date for policy provisions was Aug. 1, 2012.