Minnesota gun laws earn a C+ in new national ranking

    Minnesota’s gun laws earned a C+ in an annual assessment of state policies by the gun control advocacy group Giffords Law Center.

    California and New Jersey topped the list with A ratings, and 20 states received Fs, including North and South Dakota. Mississippi’s gun laws were ranked last.

    Minnesota ranked 13th on overall firearm law strength and had the eighth-lowest gun death rate with 8.2 deaths per 100,000 residents, according to the report. To create the annual ranking, Giffords Law Center tracks gun laws in each state and assigns them points based on the organization’s assessment of their effectiveness in keeping residents safe, as well as analyzes gun death rates from the federal government.

    Minnesota has a number of gun regulations deemed positive by the law center, including:

    • Child access prevention law
    • Firearm prohibition for certain misdemeanors and those convicted of domestic abuse charges
    • Handgun and assault weapon purchases subject to heightened background check, waiting period and permitting requirements
    • Handgun design safety standards

    But the state code doesn’t include a number of policies the center says keep residents safe, like:

    • Universal background checks
    • Firearm owner licensing
    • Firearm registration
    • Lost and stolen firearm reporting
    • Bans on assault weapons, 50-caliber rifles and large-capacity magazines
    • Restrictions on bulk firearm purchases

    The report recommends legislators here enact policies that would require a permit to buy a firearm and establish point-of-sale background checks.

    The Giffords Law Center was known as the Legal Community Against Violence from its establishment in 1993 until 2017, when it became part of an organization run by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who left Congress following a 2011 assasination attempt by a gunman that left her severely injured.

    Minnesota has earned low ratings in recent gun rights rankings. In Guns & Ammo Magazine’s annual “Best States for Gun Owners” list, the state ranked 39th in both 2018 and 2019. 

    The analysis takes into account states’ right-­to-­carry and concealed carry weapon policies, access to black rifles (also known as AR-15s), use of force laws and bans on items regulated by the National Firearms Act. Minnesota didn’t score well in the black rifle category because the state requires transferee permits, the magazine reported. The state earned points for its:

    • concealed carry permit policy
    • law allowing self-defense justification for using lethal force against a home intruder
    • legal status of C&R machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, short-barreled rifles and suppressors

    In the Guns & Ammo ranking, Arizona and Idaho scored the highest, and Massachusetts and New York received the lowest ratings.


    Rilyn Eischens
    Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.