(AP) - Churches can ban guns from their property, and they don't have to follow a state law that sets out requirements for posting signs that say guns are prohibited, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
The ruling by a three-judge panel also said churches can ban guns in their parking lots, day-care centers and other charitable, educational and nonprofit facilities they own.
It was a victory for two churches that sued to challenge part of the 2005 state law that allows residents with permits to carry concealed handguns.
Edina Community Lutheran Church and Unity Church of St. Paul had argued that the law placed an undue burden on churches and infringed on their property rights.
The state argued that the restrictions imposed only a minimal burden on the religious institutions.
Tuesday's decision, which mostly affirmed a lower-court decision, allows Edina Community Lutheran Church to continue barring guns with signs saying, "Blessed are the peacemakers. Firearms are prohibited in this place of sanctuary" rather than using the language set down by law. Other churches can choose their own wording.
The ruling was written by Appeals Judge David Minge and was also signed by judges Jill Flaskamp Halbrooks and Terri Stoneburner.
The 2005 law requires the state to issue handgun permits to citizens who pass background checks and take the required safety course. It also contains rules on signs banning guns from private establishments, including detailed requirements for the wording, typeface, color, size, distance from the entrance and height from the floor.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)