After a parent brought a rifle to a youth hockey practice, Ramsey County officials have decided to post signs banning “dangerous weapons” at county-owned ice arenas and indoor facilities — with an exception for those with a legal permit to carry a gun.
County leaders agreed to post the signs after a father with an AK-15 rifle hanging on his shoulder walked his young son into the county-owned TCO Sports Garden in Vadnais Heights on Sept. 26.
Law enforcement officers were called, and no one was injured. But concerned parents with the White Bear Lake Hockey Association sounded the alarm and began circulating a photo of the armed father accompanying his elementary school-age son, dressed in pads and carrying his hockey stick.
“We will start posting those signs at our facilities so it’s very clear,” said county spokesman John Siqveland. “It’s similar to the language and approach that Hennepin County uses.”
The signs will read: “Ramsey County bans dangerous weapons on these premises. This ban does not apply to law-abiding persons holding valid pistol permits issued pursuant to Minn. Stat. 624.714.”
Siqveland said county officials also are exploring posting the signs at outdoor parks.
Officials consulted with the county attorney’s office on what actions might be taken after the September incident. State law requires exceptions for those with legal permits to carry. As of early October, there were more than 330,000 active permits in Minnesota, according to the state Department of Public Safety.
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, which provides police service for Vadnais Heights and responded to the call at the ice arena, declined to provide additional details on the incident other than to say the case had been forwarded to the city attorney’s office. It’s unclear why the man brought the firearm to the ice arena.
According to a statement released by Ramsey County this month, the incident was being reviewed by the Vadnais Heights City Attorney’s Office for “possible violations of applicable laws related to carrying a firearm without a permit.” Mark Gaughan, the city’s attorney, said Friday that the matter remained under investigation.
Roy Magnuson, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the deputies who responded to the call were able to resolve the situation without incident.
“We are very appreciative that signage will go up that provides clarity,” he said.
Officials with the White Bear Lake Area Hockey Association declined to comment for this story. But in a letter to parents obtained by the Star Tribune, the association said it was working with Ramsey County to ensure the safety of program participants.
“Additionally, our board is updating association policies to reflect a stance on weapons,” the letter said. “The association has ZERO tolerance for weapons of any kind on the premises of any hockey event. Any person who carries a weapon on the premises of a hockey event will be banned from ALL rinks, no exceptions. Our handbook will soon reflect this updated policy.”
Glen Andresen, executive director of Minnesota Hockey, which oversees youth and amateur hockey in the state, has said he was aware of the incident. He said the organization’s governing board will examine a policy that addresses weapons at games and practices.