Family, police can now petition to confiscate a dangerous person’s guns. How does the new MN law work?

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As of Jan. 1, Minnesota is one of 21 states with a so-called red flag law, which allows a court to order people to give up their guns for up to a year if they pose a threat to themselves or others.

It’s one of two new gun control laws on the books now after a busy legislative session for DFL lawmakers in control of state government. The other, which went into effect on Aug. 1, requires universal background checks for firearms sales. Both were part of a 500-page $880 million public safety package Gov. Tim Walz signed into law in May.

The red flag, or “extreme risk protection order” law, is just one gun control policy DFLers hoped to enact in Minnesota. Similar laws have been challenged in other states, but so far have held up in court.

DFL backers and gun control advocates held a news conference at the Minnesota Capitol on Tuesday to mark the new law taking effect and explain how it works. Supporters, including Walz and Richfield Police Chief Jay Henthorne, say the orders will be a powerful tool to prevent tragedies, but they added that calling 911 is still the first thing to do in an emergency.

How it works

Under the new law, family members and law enforcement and can petition a court to remove firearms from an individual deemed an immediate threat to themselves or others. For example, a person with a suicidal immediate family member or a partner who has threatened violence would file a request with the court explaining the situation.

If the court finds evidence of the risk compelling, it can issue an emergency order directing a person to surrender their firearms and banning the person from purchasing firearms. There are two types of order — an emergency order that goes into effect immediately and lasts 14 days as welll as a long-term order requiring a hearing. It can last from six months to one year.

The process is similar to orders for protection and harassment restraining orders, according to the state Department of Public Safety. The person seeking the order is known as the petitioner, and the subject of the order is known as the respondent.

Law enforcement officials who can seek an extreme risk protection order include a chief law enforcement officer and a city or county attorney.

Those eligible to petition

Family or household members eligible to petition include:

• Spouses and former spouses.

• Parents and children.

• Guardians.

• Persons who are presently residing with the respondent.

• A person involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship with the respondent.

When it comes to “significant” relationships, the court will consider the length of the relationship, type and frequency of interaction between the parties.

If someone believes they have been unjustly deprived of their firearms, they can challenge the order in court, and an evidentiary hearing must be held in 14 days.

Forms for extreme risk protection orders can be found on the Minnesota court system website:


Local law enforcement will be required to enforce the orders, and state law enforcement will not be involved, said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Bob Jacobson.

At Tuesday’s news conference, Richfield’s chief of police said law enforcement will approach recovering firearms in extreme risk protection orders on a case-by-case basis. Ideally, the subject of an order would hand over their weapons voluntarily. If they don’t, police will have to serve a search warrant for the weapons.

Asked about how the law accounts for abuse of protective orders, Senate bill sponsor Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, noted that filing a petition with false information is a gross misdemeanor. He also said the list of individuals able to obtain an order does not include neighbors, for example, as to limit the relationships qualified to seek them.

Latz, Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, and gun control advocates at Tuesday’s news conference at the Capitol sought to bring attention to the new law, which they said will prevent violence in the future.

“We will never know for sure which lives were saved,” said Latz. “But we will know in the abstract that there are a lot of people walking around … because we passed this law.”

Speaking on behalf of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, which backed the legislation, Henthorne said extreme risk orders will help law enforcement intervene when there are “clear warning signs” of violence.


Minnesota is now one of 21 states that have enacted an extreme risk protection order law. Connecticut was the first to do so in 1999.

Red flag laws have faced legal challenges in other states, but none have been defeated by a lawsuit so far. Lawsuits typically raise Constitutional issues with the statutes, asserting that they deprive people of the right to bear arms without due process.

Gun rights advocates in Minnesota can’t challenge the law until cases emerge. But at least one group is already open to getting involved in a legal case to get it overturned.

“If there’s a good case with a sympathetic client, absolutely,” said Rob Doar, a lobbyist with the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, a prominent pro-gun rights group active at the Legislature.

More gun control laws?

Extreme risk protection orders and universal background checks were just two major gun control proposals backed by DFL lawmakers. Now that they’re law, what will they look to pass next?

There are several other proposals Democrats have their eyes on, including a law requiring safe gun storage and a new requirement to report missing or stolen firearms.

Those proposals didn’t make it to the finish line last year. Both Walz and Latz said they hope to see a safe storage requirement make it to the governor’s desk in this year’s legislative session.

Top DFLers als have signaled interest in broader gun control legislation. Walz in his 2023 budget recommendations called for magazine capacity limits and restrictions on semiautomatic rifle sales to anyone under 21.

But with a slim 34-33 majority in the Senate, and two Democrats from rural northern districts typically less friendly to gun control legislation, the possibilities may be limited.

However, Latz said last year it wasn’t certain red flag orders would make it through until later in the session.

“We didn’t know we could get this through the Senate until late in the game,” he said. “I don’t know for sure what we’re going to introduce … personally I think safe storage is a high priority.”

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