MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota's largest county joined the rush toward banning handguns from county buildings, setting up a possible court fight.
The ban would apply to about 130 buildings, including libraries, service centers and the Hennepin County Medical Center, as well as court facilities, where guns were banned by a judge last week.
The county board acted in response to the new state law that makes it easier for Minnesotans to get permits to carry handguns in public.
The law appears to prohibit local governments from restricting handgun possession in public buildings, though schools are a major exception. But Hennepin County now joins Ramsey County and Lac qui Parle County in asking citizens arriving at county buildings to leave their guns behind.
Like many counties, Hennepin has long prohibited dangerous weapons in the courthouse, with some exceptions for permit-holders. The newest bans exempt only law enforcers.
Tuesday's move was one of several reactions to the new gun possession law, and follows a temporary court order that exempted churches from prescribed wording of signs banning handguns.
Last month, Ramsey County's chief district judge banned guns from the courthouse and other court buildings. Days later, the Ramsey County board approved an interim measure to keep guns and other dangerous weapons from all other county property and will hold a public hearing Tuesday on a more permanent measure.
Some cities are lining up to ask that the law be amended to allow cities to restrict gun possession on city property. Others are considering posting signs that say guns are not welcome but stop just short of banning guns in city buildings. Duluth recently did so.
Business and property owners can ban guns with a sign and an oral request.
The debate centered on whether the county has the authority to restrict handgun possession in its buildings.
"I hope we get sued on it," said Board Chairman Mike Opat, who voted for the ban. "Eventually the Legislature is going to have to confront the fact that they did a lousy job on this."
The vote was 5-0 in favor of the ban. Two board members abstained.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.