S.F. No. 1357 enacts the Castle Doctrine providing for the justifiable use of deadly force in self-defense, and makes a number of changes to the laws relating to firearms involving the reporting of data, the conducting of background checks, the operation of transferee permits, the seizure authority of the government, and the validity of permits to carry from other states.
Permit to Purchase Renewal and Background Checks
Section 1 amends the provision of law that requires the Commissioner of Human Services to provide commitment information to law enforcement agencies to facilitate a firearms background check. Strikes the limitations that the information be provided to local law enforcement agencies and for the sole purpose of facilitating a firearms background check. Directs that the information be provided via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Requires the commissioner, by August 1, 2011, to make the required commitment information available in electronic data format for commitments occurring since August 1, 1994.
Section 2 amends the law describing persons who are ineligible to possess firearms. Requires courts placing persons into a pretrial diversion program for a crime of violence to ensure that specified information is transmitted to NICS. Requires courts to report specified information to NICS when persons are disqualified from possessing firearms for listed gross misdemeanors.
Section 3 amends the transferee permit law to make permissive rather than mandatory the language addressing police chiefs and sheriffs making reasonable efforts to check criminal histories of permit applicants through databases other than NICS and the Minnesota Crime Information System.
Section 4 amends the transferee permit law to provide that if a court grants an appeal of a challenge to a denial of a transferee permit, the court may award the petitioner reasonable costs and expenses, including attorney fees. Specifies that the court must grant the appeal if the applicant is not a person prohibited from possessing a pistol or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon under Minnesota Statutes, section 624.713.
Section 5 requires the Commissioner of Human Services to annually report to the Legislature on the commissioner's progress in complying with section 1.
Authority to Seize Weapons
Section 1 applies during the effective period of a governor-declared state of emergency. Limits the authority of a peace officer acting without a warrant to disarm a lawfully detained person, and requires the officer to return seized firearms unless the officer (1) takes the person into physical custody for engaging in criminal activity or under the 72-hour hold law; or (2) seizes the items as evidence. Prohibits the government and/or government officials from undertaking any of a list of specified actions with regard to firearms. Provides that no law relating to a public disorder or disaster emergency proclamation may be construed as authorizing the government to act in violation of this section. Provides a judicial remedy for individuals aggrieved by violations of this section. In addition to any other available remedy, individuals aggrieved by the confiscation or seizure of a firearm in violation of this section may make an application (that the court must grant) for their immediate return. Authorizes the court to award the prevailing plaintiff reasonable costs and expenses, including attorney fees.
Self-Defense: Use of Force
Section 1 contains the provision commonly known as the "Castle Doctrine." This section changes current law relating to the justifiable use of deadly force in self-defense. Under current law (which is stricken in this section), the intentional taking of the life of another is not justified "except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor's place of abode."
Subdivision 1 defines the following terms used in this section: "court order," "deadly force," "dwelling," "forcible felony," "good faith," "great bodily harm," "imminent," "substantial bodily harm," and "vehicle."
Subdivision 2 provides that the use of deadly force by an individual is justified:
- to resist or prevent a commission of a felony in the individual's dwelling;
- to resist or prevent what the individual reasonably believes is an offense or an attempted offense that imminently exposes the individual or another person to substantial or great bodily harm or death; or
- to resist or prevent what the individual reasonably believes is the commission or imminent commission of a forcible felony.
Provides that the use of deadly force is not authorized if the individual knows that the person against whom the force is being used is a peace officer acting lawfully.
Subdivision 3 authorizes an individual taking defensive action under subdivision 2 to use all force and means, including deadly force, that the individual in good faith believes is required to succeed in defense. Authorizes the individual to meet force with superior force when the individual's objective is defensive. The individual is not required to retreat, and may continue defensive actions against an assailant until the danger has ended.
Subdivision 4 provides that a person using deadly force is presumed to possess a reasonable belief that there exists an imminent threat of substantial or great bodily harm or death if the person knows or has reason to know that:
- the individual against whom the action is taken is unlawfully entering or attempting to enter by force or stealth, or has unlawfully entered by force or stealth and remains within, the dwelling or occupied vehicle of the person; or
- the individual against whom the action is taken is in the process of removing, or attempting to remove, the person or another from the dwelling or occupied vehicle.
Provides that the presumption does not apply if a person knows that the individual against whom the action is being taken:
- is a lawful resident of the dwelling or lawful possessor of the vehicle, or is otherwise lawfully permitted to enter the dwelling or vehicle; or
- is someone who has lawful custody of the person being removed or whose removal is being attempted.
Provides that a person prohibited by court order from contacting another or entering a dwelling or possessing a vehicle is not a lawful resident or possessor.
Provides that the presumption does not apply if the individual is presently engaged in a crime or attempting to escape from the scene of a crime, or is presently using the dwelling or occupied vehicle in furtherance of a crime.
Subdivision 5 provides criminal immunity for persons who use force, including deadly force, under this section or as otherwise provided by law. Allows law enforcement to arrest a person using force under this section only after considering any claims or circumstances supporting self-defense or lawful defense of another individual.
Subdivision 6 provides that the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant's actions were not justifiable in a criminal trial when there is any evidence of justifiable use of force under this section or section 609.06.
Subdivision 7 provides the title of the provision.
Recognition of Other States' Permits to Carry
Section 1 amends the provision of the handgun permit law addressing recognition of permits from other states. Provides that a person holding a valid permit or license to carry a handgun from another state or other non-Minnesota governmental jurisdiction may use the permit or license in Minnesota. Provides that the permit or license will be considered a valid permit to carry a pistol under the laws of Minnesota for as long as that permit or license remains valid under the laws of the issuing jurisdiction. Provides that these changes do not authorize a Minnesota resident to carry a pistol in Minnesota under the terms of a permit or license from another state (such a person would have to get a Minnesota carry permit). Under current law, persons holding a carry permit from a state with a law that is not substantially dissimilar to Minnesota's law may legally carry in Minnesota (the Commissioner of Public Safety must annually list states having laws that are not substantially similar to Minnesota's). Strikes the duty of the commissioner to publish this list and instead requires the commissioner to annually list states that have reciprocity agreements with Minnesota mutually recognizing each other's permits or licenses to carry a pistol. Takes away the ability of a police chief to file a petition seeking an order suspending or revoking the authority of an out-of-state permit holder to carry a pistol in Minnesota. (Current law allows a sheriff or a police chief to do this.) Under the bill, only a sheriff, acting on the sheriff's own initiative or at the request of a police chief located in the same county, may file the petition.