Minnesota Gun Defense Attorney Thomas C Gallagher has successfully represented people facing gun charges, for decades. And he is a frequent lecturer and author on gun laws, gun crime defense and criminal defense.
Gun Defense Attorney
So here, we’ll cover some basics of Minnesota gun law and criminal defense. Be sure to check out the other gun law pages here, via the menu or the search box, above. And you can also call Attorney Thomas Gallagher directly with any questions.
Get to know Minnesota Gun Laws
If you’re a competitive shooter, hunter, collector, or just an occasional plinker, you know that gun laws are complex.
Is it possible to break a law on a technicality?
Many people might not even know about the law. (Basic fairness requires “notice” of any conduct which is prohibited.) But with so many laws these days, it happens all the time. And gun charges can result. As a society, we could reduce the number and complexity of gun laws.
The solution on the individual level? Learn more about them. Ready?
If you are not sure about how to comply with the gun laws, do your best to investigate. And make sure to comply. That way, you should never need a gun defense attorney.
To begin, “intent” is a necessary “element” of every crime.
Intent defense: An accident or mistake may mean that there was no “intent” to do the prohibited act.
So, for example, if it is too late now to go back, and fill out that form differently; it may be possible to defend the gun charges with an intent defense.
But if it is not too late, then avoid shortcuts, and be careful. And don’t put yourself at risk. Learn about Minnesota gun law so you can be legally safe.
Firearms contexts for gun defense attorneys
- Criminal “limitations on gun rights.”
- Enhancement of other crimes (e.g., robbery) to more punishment, if gun used.
- Loss of civil rights or property rights, due to conviction, charge or court order.
The New Prohibition: gun possession
Gun Prohibition: Victimless-“crime” laws criminalizing:
- Prohibited person (up to everyone, eventually);
- Prohibited gun (up to all guns, eventually).
The Prohibition paradox is: the wider & more severe the Prohibition, the more Demand rises. The laws of Supply and Demand, combined with the first Natural Law of survival and self-defense, guarantee these Prohibition laws will not accomplish their stated goals.
A key feature of Prohibition “crimes” is that even though no one was hurt (no victim, no harm); someone is being punished. The punishment is based on being a disfavored person or possession of a disfavored thing. And enforcement is often based upon both.
Gun Charges: Infringements on Rights
Numerous Federal and Minnesota State statutes seek to limit our fundamental rights to and duties of self-defense, guns and firearms. And your gun defense attorney should know them.
These laws directly address the sale, ownership, possession, and use of firearms. And they do so in relation to the:
- status of the person involved, as well as
- immediate circumstances.
This web of laws includes both civil and criminal gun charges.
Gallagher’s past gun charges cases
- False Statement on Gun Purchase Application (misunderstood legal terms) or Permit.
- Illegal sales.
- Negligent Storage of Firearm (access by minor).
- Carrying Under the Influence, or over 0.04 alcohol concentration. It’s legal to carry with your permit in a bar, but not legal to carry anywhere “in public,” over 0.04.
- Carrying Without a Permit (Handgun). Minnesota Statutes § 624.714. This statutory section sets forth the objective “shall issue” criteria. See our Carry Permit page for a deeper look at Minnesota’s carry permit law. The statute makes “false representations” on an application for a permit, a crime. So any false, material information in a carry permit application, with reason to know it’s false, is a gross misdemeanor.
Gun with no serial number. Is possession of a privately made firearm really a crime under Minnesota law? We say, “No.” But if they charge you with having a “ghost gun,” you’ll need a good criminal defense lawyer who knows gun laws.
Unlawful Possession by Ineligible Person (due to prior conviction). Minnesota Statutes Section §624.713.
Possession of a gun by an “ineligible person” as defined by statute, is a crime. These are common gun charges for a gun defense attorney. But the prohibitions are broader for possession of “pistols” and “semiautomatic military-style assault weapons” [sic] (SAMSAW) than other firearms.
What can make a person “ineligible?”
- Conviction (or juvenile adjudication) for felony & select misdemeanors,
- Mental illness history,
- Chemical dependency history,
- Presence in the US illegally, fugitives, etc.
Felony Assault, 2nd Degree – Weapon
A prosecutor can enhance misdemeanor assault charges to a felony, Assault Second Degree, based possession of a weapon.
And some of these cases involve nothing more than “brandishing” a firearm, with no bodily harm at all. But we have at least two different types of defenses in Brandishing Felony Assault cases.
Reckless or Intentional Discharge gun charges defense
Reckless Discharge of a Firearm Within a Municipality, Minnesota Statutes Section § 609.66, subd. 1a(a)(3) and Intentional Discharge of a Firearm Under Circumstances that Endanger the Safety of Another, Minnesota Statutes Section § 609.66, subd. 1a(a)(2). Both are felony gun charges.
Enhancement, of Other Crimes
Many criminal statutes in Minnesota contain “charge enhancements” and “mandatory minimum” sentencing provisions triggered somehow by a gun or firearm. Your gun defense attorney can help protect you from these.
An example of the latter is in Minnesota Statutes Section §609.11. But others are scattered throughout the statutes.
A “charge enhancement” increases the maximum sentence to a more severe one. But the enhancement element requires proof of some fact in the case, such as a firearm.
A “mandatory minimum” sentencing provision, similarly, requires proof of a predicate fact. Mandatory minimum laws attempt to reduce the judge’s discretion to be fair. So they would force a severe prison sentence, no matter how unfair.
The same fact in a case should not be used twice, to both (1) enhance the charge severity; and (2) trigger a mandatory minimum sentencing law, since that would be “double counting” and unfairly exaggerate the severity of the punishment.
In connection with another crime
A common fact pattern here is using or possessing a gun “in connection with” another crime. The most common is a simple drug possession case where the person also possesses a gun in the home. The legislature did not intend this abuse of the law.
Gun Charges: Civil Rights, Property Rights
After conviction; during restraining order
The government could take away your civil rights or property rights to your firearms. And the legal basis can be criminal gun charges or convictions. Or, the rights impairment could be temporary, such as during a domestic civil restraining order, like an OFP or HRO.
So contact Gun Defense Attorney Thomas Gallagher by phone, to discuss your case
Civil rights: Felony and some misdemeanor convictions (including domestics) can cause a loss of civil rights to firearms. And the loss is either temporary or forever (rendering an “ineligible person”). So protecting your civil rights is an essential part of gun crime defense work.
Property rights: In some criminal cases, guns can be seized by the government. And these seizures happen even while presumed innocent before trial or acquittal; and after certain convictions.
When should you act to protect your rights?
The past: Sometimes you can do things to help, after the passage of enough time. So, eventually, apply for a Pardon; or petition the court to restore civil rights to firearms in Minnesota.
But beware: a Minnesota expungement won’t restore gun rights.
The future: But the best way to protect your civil rights to firearms; is to prevent the loss in the first place.
How? Put the law on your side. Retain a good gun defense attorney to fight gun charges, prevent a conviction and protect your gun rights.
All the excuses in the world, as good as they may be, won’t get the job done. The best time to protect yourself is before a guilty plea or conviction. But after that, could be too late.
Self-Defense is a Human Right
A person has the natural right to defend self or others with reasonable force.
The laws of Minnesota recognize this. But regardless, we know that self-defense is a basic Human Right that each of us has. It belongs to you. You were born with it.
So if you’re facing gun charges, your gun defense attorney should be an expert in self-defense law.
Did you ever see two people physically fighting, perhaps when you were school-age or on the street?
When you were a witness to how it started, normally one person was the aggressor. And the other tried to back away.
And then after the fight is underway, only then do most people notice. So then they look, and come over to see. But they did not see how it started. And what do they say?
“Why are THOSE TWO fighting?! I wish THEY would stop.”
What about cases where there are no other witnesses, such as a fight in a home in a domestic crime case? How do we know what really happened. And where is the truth?
Minnesota self-defense law includes a “duty to retreat,” except in the home. Some call this “the Castle Doctrine.”
So, outside the home, unless defending another; a person facing a threat has a duty to retreat, if practical, before using “reasonable force.”
Of course, we should suffer humiliation rather than get involved in a physical fight, if we can avoid it. All too often, however, the attack is sudden. Without warning, retreat would be self-destructive – with risk of great bodily harm.
“No one wins a fight.” You’ve heard it. And you know it’s true. So if it is about “winning,” there should be no fight at all. But if you must protect yourself with no safe alternative, to ensure survival; then there is no reasonable choice.
What is “reasonable force?”
It’s situational. Courts instruct that what is reasonable depends upon “the totality of the circumstances at the time.” And if you use a weapon in self-defense, the use of deadly force statute requires that it be necessary to resist or prevent an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing a felony in the actor’s place of abode.
There must be thousands of court cases discussing reasonable force, in various situations. And self-defense can be a defense to some gun charges.
What is reasonable force? Of course, shooting at someone who spits on your shoes is not reasonable.
We train police officers to shoot continuously at the center of mass in self-defense, until the threat stops. And, we train them to shoot a person armed with a knife within a certain distance – wisely so. That can be reasonable force – a good gun crime defense.
In the end, no one wants to be in a position where a jury has to decide “was it reasonable?” given the threat presented at the time. But if you are defending yourself from a violent attack, deadly force can be necessary and reasonable.
Our series: Blog articles on self-defense in Minnesota.
Gun Charges pages
Gun Charges Defense Attorney Thomas Gallagher
Are you facing a gun charge? Need a gun crime defense attorney? Or just have a question You can call Attorney Thomas Gallagher. He’s happy to help.