Minnesota's highest court ruled Wednesday that the state's permit-to-carry law did not violate a Coon Rapids man's Second Amendment rights.
Nathan Hatch, 30, was arrested in 2018 after Metropolitan Airports Commission police stopped to help him when his truck broke down on his way to work. He told them he had a handgun in a backpack in the back seat of his truck and that he did not have a permit to carry one. Officers found a loaded pistol and arrested Hatch, according to the ruling filed on Wednesday.
He was charged with a gross misdemeanor for carrying and possessing a pistol without a permit in a public place. In 2020, a district court found him guilty of the offense. (In that case, Hatch has a probation violation hearing scheduled this week, according to court records.)
On his appeal, Hatch sought to strike down the state's permit-to-carry statute, arguing that it violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms and failed to meet a "strict scrutiny" standard because it was not narrowly tailored to advance the state's interests.
The state Supreme Court ruled against Hatch, upholding the law.
"Considering the undisputed compelling governmental interest in ensuring public safety and the narrowly tailored provisions of the statute to achieve that interest, we conclude that the permit-to-carry statute withstands strict scrutiny," according to the ruling. "We therefore hold that the permit-to-carry statute does not violate the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution."
Hatch's attorney, Lynne Torgerson, said they plan to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Torgerson said she believes the Minnesota court did not address the issue that punishment of a gross misdemeanor or a felony "for engaging in pure Second Amendment behavior is unconstitutional."
"We were challenging the punishment section of the statute, which really wasn't really addressed," she continued.
The justices also wrote that it is not difficult to obtain a permit to carry in Minnesota and that the statute leans in favor of the applicant. If a permit is denied, a person can appeal the decision.
"Indeed, it is hard to imagine a less restrictive firearm permitting scheme than the one provided by the permit-to-carry statute and its related provisions. Law-abiding citizens over the age of 21 need only show that they have passed a gun safety course and that they are not a danger to themselves or others to receive a permit to carry a handgun in public," according to the ruling.
Torgerson said she disagreed, saying she believes it can be difficult to obtain a permit. One must take a gun safety course, pay to apply for the permit, and if a sheriff decides against issuing, the applicant must then pay the legal fees to appeal that decision in court.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759