The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus (MGOC) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the State Agricultural Society and Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher in an effort to force the Minnesota State Fair to allow legally-armed citizens into the fairgrounds.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “At a news conference on Tuesday, the plaintiffs and representatives from the Gun Owners Caucus said their case doesn’t argue whether it’s a good or bad idea to carry a gun at the State Fair. Rather, they want to ensure that all permitted carriers have the opportunity to lawfully carry their firearms at the public, state-sponsored event.”
The newspaper quoted MGOC Chairman Bryan Strawser explaining, “As an arm of state government, the Minnesota State Agricultural Society is preempted by multiple state statutes from prohibiting the lawful carry of firearms on the State Fairgrounds or during the Minnesota State Fair.”
Sheriff Fletcher told the newspaper he was surprised to be named as a defendant, given that his personnel are only responsible for enforcement inside the 11 gates to the fair, which runs from Aug. 26 to Sept. 6.
The gun group is joined by two individual plaintiffs, Sarah Cade Hauptman and the Rev. Tim Christopher of the Berean Missionary Baptist Church. Christopher is planning to attend the fair later this month, according to Yahoo News. He may have a problem because the fair will reportedly have metal detectors at all of the entrances.
The plaintiffs reportedly recalled that nine fights erupted during the fair in 2019, on the evening of Aug. 31. On Labor Day that year, Yahoo News said, there was a shooting outside of the fairgrounds at closing time.
In a statement on their website, MGOC said, “We are seeking an injunction against the State Agricultural Society, Ramsey County, and Sheriff Fletcher prohibiting them from excluding or ejecting Minnesotans with a valid permit to carry from the Minnesota State Fair and an order requiring compliance with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and the imposition of a civil penalty for their violation of the act. We are also asking for the award of our full costs, expenses, and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in this action.”
The group also alleges the Agricultural Society has failed to update and ensure accuracy of their data inventory and data access policy, amounting to “serious violations of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
Additionally, in the same statement, MGOC says, “As a subdivision of the government of the State of Minnesota, the State Agricultural Society, which operates the Minnesota State Fair, is completely preempted by state statutes from interfering with the lawful exercise of a Minnesota Permit to Carry.”