Group sues to allow firearms at Minnesota State Fair

The group expects a hearing on its request for a temporary injunction within the next two weeks, in time for the fair. 

Minnesota State Fair/Facebook

A gun owners group is suing to allow permit holders to carry firearms on the fairgrounds during this year’s Minnesota State Fair.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Ramsey County, Sheriff Bob Fletcher, and the Minnesota State Agricultural Society, which operates the Minnesota State Fair, alleging the fair’s ban on firearms violates the Second Amendment.

Two other plaintiffs include Rev. Tim Christopher and Ramsey County resident Sarah Cade Hauptman, who both claim they want to bring their guns to the fair for self-defense.

According to a press release, the agricultural society has prohibited firearms at the fair for several years through policies and signage but “without any legal authorization for their supposed prohibition.”

The policy wasn’t strictly enforced in previous years but could be this year with the installation of new metal detectors, the caucus explained.

The lawsuit argues that Minnesota law “supersedes and preempts any inconsistent local regulation regarding the carrying or possession of pistols” and even allows permitted carry inside the Capitol — an “area more serious than the light-hearted” fair.

Additionally, as a “quasi-state agency,” the agricultural society is “completely preempted under multiple state statutes from prohibiting the lawful carry of firearms on the state fairgrounds or during the Minnesota State Fair,” according to the Gun Owners Caucus.

The Gun Owners Caucus held a press conference to announce the litigation Tuesday afternoon across from the entrance to the fairgrounds.

“There was just a shooting yesterday in broad daylight. We are at a point now where you don’t know where the crime is coming from. You have zero clue. It could happen right here, right now today, in this here so-called safe neighborhood,” Christopher said at the press conference.

“I’m protecting myself from anyone who decides that they want to do any type of harm to me, my family, or anyone around,” he added.

Rob Doar, political director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, called the fair’s ban on firearms “illegal” and “unnecessary.”

“Not only is the fair breaking the law by attempting to enforce a policy banning firearms this year, but they are also actively denying every law-abiding permit holder the ability to travel safely to and from the fair,” he said.

In a letter included in the lawsuit, attorneys for the Minnesota State Agricultural Society said the agency has the “obligation and the authority to impose rules and policies that prioritize the health and safety of fairgoers.”

“To that end, the State Agricultural Society has consistently maintained the policy that private citizens may not bring weapons onto the fairgrounds during the fair,” said the letter.

The Great Minnesota Get-Together, which is currently considering masks and other requirements for attendees, runs Aug. 26 through Labor Day.

The caucus said it expects a hearing on its request for a temporary injunction within the next two weeks, in time for the fair.