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Extreme Judicial Activism

Robb has the story from Minnesota, where churches sued to overturn the Minnesota Personal Protection Act, which made Minnesota a shall-issue state.  In this unbelievable ruling, the Minnesota Court stated:

The decision means the Edina Community Lutheran Church can continue to legally bar guns with signs saying “Blessed are the peacemakers. Firearms are prohibited in this place of sanctuary.” Other churches may choose their own wording.

The decision also means that parking lots, day-care centers and other charitable, educational and nonprofit facilities owned by churches may ban firearms.

Strictly speaking, the ban has always allowed churches to ban concealed carry on premises, but the legislature drafted a state wide standard for the signs to be uniform, and conspicuously posted, much like the 30.06 signs (I still love how the numbering on that one worked out) in Texas.

The proper response to this, of course, is for the legislature to strike all signage provisions from the MPPA, and revert to enforcing bans on concealed weapons using laws against trespass.  Pennsylvania works this way, and it works well.

One wonders how the Court of Appeals would have ruled if the Minnesota legislature had simply chosen to allow concealed carry without any kind of license whatsoever?

Churches are free to ban gun within their churches, using trespassing laws that have been common law for centuries.   The legislature, by mandating signage, specifically intended to ensure that license holders knew that they were carrying into an establishment that prohibited concealed carry.  The intent of the legislature has been thwarted by an activist court, and I hope the legislature will take to fixing this problem.

9 Responses to “Extreme Judicial Activism”

  1. TheGunGeek says:

    Sorry, but I think the courts got this one right. The right to bear arms and the right to religious freedom are both extremely important. However, this does not take away the former, while retaining the latter.

    If you’ve got a law that says where people can and cannot carry concealed without having to get permission first, it has to be done in a manner that puts the least restrictions on churches.

    I really really like the way Utah handles it. If a church wants to prohibit concealed carry all they have to do is notify the state and they’ll put them on their list of prohibited churches. The list is always available online and it also gets published and I think you can even call and ask about a specific church. If you’re not on the list, people can carry there.

    This truly puts the least possible imposition on the church while also allowing people to carry in as many places as possible.

  2. Mike Gallo says:

    Does MN’s law have criminal penalties for carrying into a place with the required signage? I know some states do, and figured that was really the only reason to have a sign requirement in the first place.

  3. Sebastian says:

    To me the question is whether churches can be exempt from generally applicable laws. It would be one thing if the legislature had singled out churches as having to apply signage, and not applied them to any other institution, but the legislature didn’t do that. It’s a generally applicable statute. It’s worthwhile to note that under Minnesota law, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor for tresspass for failing to obey the sign, and the legislature quite properly demanded certain conditions to be met in order to meet a standard of “notice” The churches were always permitted to ask an individual person with a firearm to leave the property, but the signage requirement is meant to allow for a default issuance of a trespassing citation. Now, presumably, churches can display anything, as inconspicuous and vague as they want, and still be able to cause a default citation.

    I prefer the way Pennsylvania handles it. Churches are not “off limits” for the purposes of concealed carry, but churches are permitted to exercise their property rights, and tell parishioners that they are not welcome in the church with a side arm. Signage doesn’t mean anything.

  4. straightarrow says:

    So Gun Geek you are saying it is ok for Mn to make law respecting an establishment of religion?

    Isn’t that counter to everything we claim to believe?

  5. teqjack says:

    Exempting churches from must-allow does not seem terrible, just stupid. Well, reinforcing the stupidity of a few “spiritual leaders”.

    But if exemptions are alowed, I’d rather have a sign than no sign. Trespassing law? Without signage, how the blinking blue blazes am I supposed to know whether or not I can go onto a property? OK, default is cannot (at the least, not enter a building/structure) – so must everyplace put up a sign that, yes, you can use this path to the university lecture hall or whatever?

    But if you are going to require signs, there should be a standard (or a few, maybe six or seven as with handicapped parking signs). This part of the ruling is beyond reinforcing stupidity, it is encouraging more of it.

    Look exceptions up on the `net? Oh come now! I sometimes use the bus, and yes, I go to the website. Does it tell me how to get from one place to another, like Google/Mapquest/Yahoo? No way, I have to have a good idea of which route I want to use or a couple of days to look over every route – with no guarantee the information is there (probability approaches zero, actually). Do they list/map every stop? Nope, roughly one per two miles while stops are typically about a furlong (eight to the mile, if you have never heard of one) apart.

  6. TheGunGeek says:

    “So Gun Geek you are saying it is ok for Mn to make law respecting an establishment of religion?

    Isn’t that counter to everything we claim to believe?”

    What I’m saying is that IF you are going to have any laws regarding who can carry where and how people are notified of the legality of carrying there, then that law MUST be the least restrictive in regard to churches since the Consititutional principle is that we make no laws regarding the free exercise of religion.

    As to those with an issue with listing churches on a web site, well you learn all about that law when you take your permit class so it’s not like you don’t know where to look. Also, most people don’t just decide to pop into a church on the spur of the moment. Going to a church is generally not an impulsive decision. You have plenty of time to check on the web site to see if it’s okay.

    Without getting into the parking lot debate that’s raging all around, I think that my car is an extension of my home and/or person and nobody should be allowed to prohibit anything in my car on their property. Obvious exceptions would be for real safety issues, like explosives, or a limitation on what you can do with certain items while they are in your car. For instance, if you want to have alcohol in your car when you drive into my parking lot, I shouldn’t be able to stop you. However, I should be able to say you can’t drink it while in your car on my property.

    Here in SC, I can pull into a friend’s driveway and park there with a concealed weapon, but I can’t bring it into his house without his permission. That’s how it should be for businesses, churches, government facilities, schools, etc.

  7. straightarrow says:

    No problem with your response or your philosophy, but (you knew there was going to be a “but”, didn’t you?) requiring churches to inform the public of their policy regarding a sectarian issue does nothing to restrict their practice of religion. Allowing churches to exempt themselves from the duty to inform, and thereby trapping the unsuspecting, does much to harm the society at large, and the individual in particular.

    This isn’t about freedom to worship as one sees fit. It’s about public policy on a non-religious issue. They should not be exempt from that duty. Especially as it has no impact on their religious rights or freedoms.

  8. straightarrow says:

    Another thought, using your logic, would it not be permissable then to exempt clergy from the consequences of driving drunk? Or any other laws?

    Perhaps membership in a church that encourages rape should exempt parishioners from charges of rape so as not to infringe their religious freedom?

    Both of the above are ridiculous on their faces, but in perfect alignment with the (il)logic displayed in the ruling and your agreement with it.

  9. TheGunGeek says:

    The framers and the courts have pretty much always said that church members and church leaders that engage in illegal activities are to be accountable for their actions. No problem there.

    I can guarantee you that there are churches whose religious beliefs are such that they would find bringing a weapon into the church to be in violation of their doctrines. Not just their policies, but actually against their religious beliefs.

    And it certainly isn’t “trapping the unsuspecting” when permit holders have been taught what the rules are. It’s no more a trap than police ticketing you for jay walking when there isn’t a sign up prohibiting it. The law is there and in this case it would be even less of a trap because not everyone is taught and tested on knowing whether or not jay walking is illegal. They are taught and tested when it comes to where permit holders can and cannot carry concealed.

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