Crime, Law and Justice

Court says private vehicle is ‘public place’ under Minnesota gun law

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a person’s vehicle is a public place under the state’s permit-to-carry law.

In May of 2022, Ramsey County sheriff's deputies pulled over Kyaw Be Bee near Larpenteur Avenue and Interstate 35E on suspicion of stealing a catalytic converter.

Prosecutors didn’t charge Bee with theft, but after deputies allegedly found a BB gun under Bee’s driver’s seat, authorities charged the 35-year-old with carrying a gun in public without a permit, a gross misdemeanor. State law puts BB guns in the same class as shotguns and rifles.

In August, Ramsey County Judge Leonardo Castro dismissed the case for lack of probable cause. Castro reasoned that because Bee’s gun was in a private vehicle, he did not violate the prohibition against carrying the weapon in public.

The St. Paul City Attorney’s Office challenged Castro’s dismissal at the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Citing a 2021 Minnesota Supreme Court DWI case where a drunk driver was found with a pistol in his car, appellate Judge Matthew Johnson ruled that Bee was carrying his gun in a public place in violation of the law because he was on a public road.

The DWI case focused on a separate law that prohibits carrying guns while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; Bee’s case was centered on a statute that governs BB guns, rifles and shotguns.

The appellate court’s decision is precedential, which means that its reasoning will apply to future cases. The ruling sends Bee’s case back to the Ramsey County court.

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