Last month, according to persons who wish to remain anonymous, Hennepin County’s health inspector forced Bill’s Gun Shop & Range—a chain of gun stores with accompanying indoor ranges with five locations—to shut its doors. The incident occurred at Bill’s Gun Shop & Range in Robbinsdale, which is in Hennepin County. The health inspector called and said that if the gun range didn’t shut down, he would send in the Hennepin County Sherriff.
Other Bill’s Gun Shop & Range locations are found in Circle Pines and Baxter, both in Minnesota, as well as in Fargo, ND, and Hudson, WI.
The owner didn’t receive the same directive for the other Minnesota locations, but after consulting with his attorney closed his stores the next day just to be safe—forgoing thousands of dollars in sales. Yet after further legal consultation, Bill’s Gun Shop & Range re-opened the day after.
That’s because Minnesota has a statute, 624.7192, titled “authority to seize and confiscate firearms.” Basically, the state doesn’t have any. Even during a declared emergency, state or local officials appear to be legally unable to shut gun ranges or stores down.
The statute reads, in part:
“Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no governmental unit, government official, government employee, peace officer, or other person or body acting under governmental authority or color of law may undertake any of the following actions with regard to any firearms and ammunition, and components thereof; any firearms accessories and ammunition reloading equipment and supplies; and any other personal weapons:
(4) close or limit the operating hours of businesses that lawfully sell or service any of these items, unless such closing or limitation of hours applies equally to all forms of commerce.”
Bill’s Gun Shop & Range is now open for business, though indoor ranges remain closed across the state until May 4th (ranges appear not to be covered by the statute). Bill’s store was contacted and they stated that, at the time of the incident in question, they informed as many other gun stores as possible—especially those in Hennepin County—that the government has no right to shut them down.