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9 things to know about firearms permits during
a peacetime emergency

 July 22, 2020

Photo of a guy shooting a gun.

A lot of you want to know how the process of applying for a permit to purchase or a permit to carry a firearm has changed during the peacetime emergency brought on by COVID-19. Visits to all our web pages about firearms permits are way up compared to last year. We won’t bore you with the numbers, but suffice it to say, many of you have some interest in the subject. 

So without further ado, here are nine things you might want to know about firearms permits during Minnesota’s current peacetime emergency:

  1. Each city or county has identified its own practices for processing firearms permit applications during the pandemic.
  2. Fortunately, you can reach out to your local law enforcement agency with questions. If it’s a permit to purchase you’re after, give your local police department a call; if you need a permit to carry, you’ll want to contact your sheriff’s office for information about their process.
  3. Minnesota state law says that only police departments and sheriffs’ offices can accept firearms permit applications, meaning neither the Department of Public Safety (DPS) nor the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) can. They also can’t advise on how to complete the required information on the forms – another great reason to contact your local law enforcement directly.
  4. If your local law enforcement agency offices are closed due to the pandemic, it may change the way you complete the in-person submission requirement of permit to carry applications. You may want to call the gun permits/background check unit of your local agency directly to see if they have an alternative process – or check their website for instructions.
  5. Firearm permit expiration dates have not been extended under the peacetime emergency, so if you already have a permit, check the expiration date on it and apply to have it renewed if you want to do so.
  6. Within one year of applying for or renewing your permit to carry, you’ll need evidence that you received training in the safe use of a handgun from a certified instructor. The BCA website has a list of approved firearms trainers. You can plug in your address or zip code to find one near you. 
  7. Once you find a firearms trainer, consider contacting them to find out what training practices they’ve established that can help you and others stay safe from the virus.
  8. It is not illegal to wear a mask during the pandemic while carrying a firearm. The Attorney General’s Office doesn’t interpret the state law that makes it a misdemeanor to conceal one’s identity in a public place while carrying a firearm as applying to COVID-19.
  9. You still have to successfully complete a live-fire shooting exercise in order to get or renew your permit to carry. Firing ranges are now making it possible to complete the live-fire shooting exercise for a DPS-approved instructor. If you complete it successfully, the instructor will certify that you have fulfilled all training requirements.

Yes, the pandemic and the resulting peacetime emergency have changed the way Minnesotans apply for firearms permits. But you can still do so after careful research and training.