EXCLUSIVE: Minnesota mother says state is abusing law to go after her son on gun charges

Sara Forgues, the mother of Matthew “Walker” Anderson, spoke with Alpha News regarding her son's distressing legal battle. The case has concerning implications for gun owners across Minnesota.

Sara Forgues, the mother of Matthew “Walker” Anderson, spoke with Alpha News regarding her son's distressing legal battle. (Photo provided to Alpha News)

A 22-year old man from Becker, Minn., is facing two felonies for possessing privately made firearms lacking serial numbers in a case his mother called a gross abuse of Minnesota law.

Sara Forgues, the mother of Matthew “Walker” Anderson, spoke with Alpha News regarding her son’s distressing legal battle. The case has concerning implications for gun owners across Minnesota, she said.

The charges 

According to Forgues, in May 2022, Anderson and a friend were target shooting on private property in Sherburne County. The incident prompted a complaint from a neighbor, leading to the intervention of local sheriff’s deputies.

The neighbor alleged that a bullet had struck his house, but Forgues said no evidence was found to support this claim.

The charging documents provide few details about the incident, saying that the neighbor “heard glass shatter” on the lower level of his home. Discovering a broken sliding glass door, “he believed [to be] from a gunshot,” the neighbor called the police.

Anderson fully cooperated with the deputy who arrived to inspect the shooting range. He and his friend agreed to show the deputy their firearms, which included Anderson’s privately made firearms that did not have serial numbers.

He was then detained for several hours and the firearms were confiscated. Anderson was told by the deputies that he would be charged with two felonies for possessing firearms without serial numbers.

Forgues explained that after they looked into the statute the deputies cited, they believed the charges would be dropped. The statute outlines felony charges for removing a serial number from a firearm or possessing a “firearm that is not identified by a serial number.”

Matthew “Walker” Anderson is facing two felony charges. (Photo provides to Alpha News)

However, Anderson’s attorney notes in legal filings that the federal law referenced in the state statute does not consider his privately made firearms to be firearms that require a serial number.

“Under the plain meaning of the statute, the rifles made and possessed by Anderson were not ‘firearms’ as contemplated in [the federal law] and thus no serial number was required,” his attorney said in court documents. “Federal law does not require serial numbers to be placed on personally manufactured firearms created for private use.”

Additionally, if state law actually does ban Anderson’s privately made firearms with no serial numbers, then it should be ruled unconstitutional, his attorney argued.

“Commercially manufactured or imported firearms were not required to have serial numbers until 1968 and personally manufactured firearms still do not require a serial number under federal law. There is no historical tradition or authority to ban possession of rifles and shotguns that are in common use and circulation that are suitable for civilian purposes and target shooting simply for not having a number engraved on the metal,” he said.

Rob Doar, senior vice president of government affairs with the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, said the legal issues are nuanced, but “essentially the prosecutor is taking a bad reading of poorly drafted legislation.”

“In a nutshell, 609.667 prohibits the possession of firearms that do not have a serial number. It defines a serial number by referencing federal law, the National Firearms Act,” Doar told Alpha News. “The clear intent of the statute is to prohibit possession of unserialized firearms that fall within the National Firearms Act regulations, for example, automatic weapons and short barrel rifles. Because these weapons are required to be registered at the federal level, they must possess a serial number. The federal government does not prohibit the manufacture of firearms for personal use, and creates zero requirements for serializing personally manufactured firearms.

“It cannot possibly be construed to extend beyond those types of firearms, because before 1968 firearms were not required to even have serial numbers, but there’s been no question that those are still legal to own today. In fact, the Minnesota DNR auctions off serial-less firearms every year,” he added.

Doar said the Gun Owners Caucus believes the prosecutor in this case is “well outside the logical bounds of the statute” and hopes the charges are dropped.

Forgues explained that her son even spoke with an ATF agent before building his firearms to make sure he was complying with all relevant laws. The agent, according to Forgues, assured him that he was not violating federal law and wasn’t aware of any state law restricting privately made firearms.

Legal ramifications 

Forgues said they were surprised when Anderson was charged with two felonies six weeks after the incident.

“We truly believed that the charges would be dismissed,” Forgues said. “That’s why I’m speaking out now. I was terrified to speak out.”

Sherburne County Attorney Kathleen Heaney’s office is prosecuting the case. (Sherburne County)

Anderson appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to both felonies. He is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 5. His family has had to tap into funds allocated for his college education to finance his legal defense but has started a GiveSendGo to help with the costs.

The potential consequences of a successful conviction in this case are significant, Forgues said. She said that if Anderson were to be convicted, the precedent would mean that every single firearm in Minnesota without a serial number, including those made before 1968, would render their owners instant felons. The ramifications would extend to hunters and countless families who have inherited firearms over generations, along with those who build their own weapons.

“It’s so clear that this is unconstitutional,” she said. “This Minnesota statute is being grossly abused and misapplied.”

Forgues said Anderson is graduating from college in July, working full-time as a mechanic and playing baseball, and is a responsible gun owner who went out of his way to make sure he was following the law.

“All I care about is keeping Walker out of prison,” Forgues emphasized.

The Sherburne County Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment. Anderson faces up to five years in prison for each charge.


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.