Reading the article, Packing in Capitol makes some feel safe, in Don Davis's Capitol Chatter, I had to pause--no, make that stop in my tracks--when I read the following passage:
To be legal, anyone carrying a concealed weapon must have a permit.
Cornish, the Lake Crystal police chief, said sheriffs are careful about who gets permits, and they may deny permit requests even if a person has no convictions on his record.
Perhaps the word "may" is just Davis's word choice (I'll leave the use of the male pronoun for the Pink Pistols to thrash over), but this statement confuses the issue--and muddies the waters over the historic struggle over permits to carry a pistol in Minnesota. The permits to carry issue is frequently called "conceal carry" but that's a misleading term. Permit holders don't have to conceal their pistol to require a permit (somewhat different rules cover rifles, shotguns and BB guns).
The entire battle was over whether sheriffs "shall issue" permits to any eligible citizen who applies and pays for a permit, without having to supply a reason for requesting the permit, or whether, under the old "may issue" language, sheriff's departments were granted far great discretion to deny any citizen who applied for a permit and stated a reason for asking.
The new law allows for greater gun rights; my civil liberty of gun ownership and enjoyment of a firearm (provided I meet the very reasonable criteria spelled out in the law) can't be denied at the whim of the local sheriff.
Few permit applications are denied under the current "shall issue" law; few permit holders commit crimes in Minnesota while carrying their firearms in public. One section of the law requires that the commissioner of public safety report to the legislature each year; the report are available online here, following the FAQ about permits.
It's interesting scrolling through the reports. Only a few hundred permits are denied each year, and while the privacy of each permit holder and denied applicant is preserved, the reasons for each rejected permit are noted. While sheriffs can deny an applicant for "danger to self or others," since permits can be denied for more than one reason, when one gets to the details on each case, it's clear that while some denied applicants might not have a conviction to their discredit, they do fall within the other categories the legislature clearly spelled out in Minnesota Statute 624.714 (Subd 2).
So was Cornish soft-pedaling "shall issue" while being interviewed about carrying a gun during session is the wake of the Arizona shootings?
The grandstanding Cornish is certainly the last person I'd imagine doing that. While stranger things have happened in Minnesota politics and it's not impossible that Cornish came down with a sudden bout of angst and political correctness, the Davis paraphrase illustrates how quickly the discussion of this issue can become muddy as the Blue Earth River after a good thunderstorm.
That, or too much Sweetwater at Kelly Inn.