Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Minnesota Court Says Concealed-Carry Law Cannot Be Enforced Against Churches

Yesterday in Edina Community Lutheran Church v. State of Minnesota, (MN Ct. App., Feb. 5, 2008), a Minnesota state appellate court upheld the objections of two churches to enforcement against them of the Minnesota Citizens' Personal Protection Act of 2005. The law requires that before a church can refuse entry to someone carrying a firearm, it must post a specific sign at each entrance or personally inform each person that guns are prohibited. The law also prevents churches from banning guns in their parking lots and from prohibiting tenants from carrying guns on church property. The churches argued that the law's requirements interfere with the churches' belief in welcoming visitors, and prevent churches from limiting tenants' use to those consistent with the churches' commitment to nonviolence.

Invoking the state constitution's freedom of conscience clause, the court held broadly that these requirements burden a church's exercise of religious belief. It concluded that the state failed to show a compelling interest in enforcing the provisions against churches. It also held that the trial court's grant of an injunction against enforcement of the law did not violate the Establishment Clause of the state and federal constitutions. Finally the court conluded that the state's carry-concealed law is not a "land use regulation" covered by RLUIPA. Yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on the decision. (See prior relataed posting.)