FALCON HEIGHTS (AP) -- Minnesota State Fair officials have posted signs near entrances to notify visitors that guns won't be welcome at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, and that has gun-rights advocates fuming.
The signs that went up in advance of Thursday's opening day are similar to those popping up around the state in response to Minnesota's new concealed carry law, which made gun permits more widely accessible.
While the signs are new, fair officials said they've banned guns for decades.
"There's not a large fair in the country, or theme park, that allows weapons. It's common sense," said fair director Jerry Hammer.
But gun-rights advocates argue that the fair has no legal authority under Minnesota's new concealed carry law to prevent permit holders from bringing their handguns. They warn that if the fair stops a properly licensed citizen from carrying a gun, it'll likely face a lawsuit.
"They're outside the law, outside of their authority and they know better," said David Gross, an attorney for the organization Concealed Carry Reform Now, which successfully lobbied for the recently passed law.
Gross said the law explicitly states public places, like the fair, have no authority to ban guns.
"The property is owned by the state of Minnesota. The statute says no sheriff, police chief, governmental unit, governmental official, government employee or other person or body, acting under color of law or governmental authority, may limit the exercise of a permit to carry," he said. "And they're trying to limit the exercise of a permit to carry."
But the fair's attorney, Kent Harbison, said fair staff have every intention of enforcing the ban.
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