With fall just around the corner, many Minnesotans are likely preparing for another favored time of year - hunting season.
And this year there’s good news for those who enjoy shooting ducks, deer, and pheasants: You may no longer have to worry about casing your gun or bow.
Last session, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill I co-authored which finally removed the law that required guns to be cased when they are carried in vehicles. The law now reads that we don’t need the cases; the guns simply need to be unloaded. The exception would be in Ramsey, Hennepin, and Anoka Counties; in cities with populations greater than 2,500; on school grounds; or in jurisdictions that prohibit the discharge of firearms.
Previously, the cased firearms requirements mandated guns and bows to be unloaded and in a case that was zipped or locked, or locked in the trunk of a car, when transporting them. This law inadvertently made criminals of hunters that carried their guns from one area of a shooting range to another – such as on an ATV or in the back of a truck - or when walking with a rifle back from a deer stand or after driving deer from one end of a field to the other.
The new uncased firearm provision allows you to transport an unloaded, uncased shotgun, rifle and bow to and from legal hunting locations if you’re lawfully hunting that day on private or public land.
For those wondering, this new statue does not affect Minnesota’s conceal and carry law.
This new law really is welcome news for hunters. Now the police and conservation officers can focus on real game and fish violations - and real crime - instead of getting caught up in chasing after people who intend no harm to anyone, or have not done anything intentionally wrong or unsafe.
In my view, the cased gun law was another provision established by frightened anti-gun politicians who believe the government makes better decisions than we can. As a hunter and gun owner, I’m glad it’s gone.
Hunters are a responsible group, and most of us understood that putting a case over a gun before driving away was rather pointless. The key to safety is, and always has been, unloading the firearm before you leave. With no ammunition, that rifle isn’t going to fire whether it’s in a case or not.
It’s also worth noting the hunting seasons that are open year-round for which you do not need a license, such as coyotes, red squirrels and skunks. This is especially helpful when these animals are causing damage to your property. The uncased, unloaded gun law applies to these nuisance animals as well, unless of course you travel into a bigger town or city.
With duck hunting season fast approaching, many of us are getting an itchy trigger finger. Please practice safety this hunting season, and remember that your gun or bow case is no longer needed if you’re driving from one hunting area to the next.