Burnsville gunman wanted his firearm rights restored. This is why the system blocked him

Shannon Gooden desperately wanted a gun.

Years before he shot and killed three Burnsville first responders, Gooden argued for the court to lift his lifetime ban on owning firearms

"Those are going to be tough cases," said Attorney Kelly Keegan who specializes in firearms rights restoration. 

Keegan said the state’s system is designed to block people like Gooden when they apply to have their rights restored. 

"I think we trust our judges to make those decisions," Keegan said. "This is not something where it’s automatic. It’s not something where there’s even a presumption that they get their rights back." 

A FOX 9 Investigators analysis of court cases reveals since 2019, at least 525 petitions have been filed statewide to restore their rights to own a firearm. As many as 328 petitions were granted, according to the data. 

Fuzzy dice and hallucinogenic mushrooms 

One case reviewed by the FOX 9 Investigators reveals a 19-year-old high schooler was pulled over in Dakota County for having fuzzy dice in the rearview mirror in 2002. The stop led to the discovery of hallucinogenic mushrooms in the car. 

Court records show the teen did not have a firearm at the time of his arrest but he was stripped of his right to own a firearm. 

More than a decade later, the same man petitioned the court to restore his firearm rights, citing his desire to participate in hunting season in Minnesota.

The court was convinced and restored his firearm rights. 

"Those are offenses that don’t involve any physical violence and those tend to be the better cases for restoration," Keegan said.

In Dakota County, where Gooden was one of six petitions denied, 14 petitions were granted and seven are still pending. 

Keegan said most people seeking to restore their firearm rights cited hunting as a primary reason. She said another rationale boils down to "property issues where people want to take possession of family heirloom firearms." 

Gooden’s argument

Gooden, who later illegally obtained several guns, claimed in 2020 that he wanted a firearm to "protect not only himself but his family as well."

Keegan said the self-defense type of reasoning doesn’t go over well in court. 

"I tell clients that that’s a really difficult reason," Keegan said "Because what you’re really saying is ‘judge, if some situation jumps off, if something happens, I want to be able to use a gun against another person’ – and that makes judges very nervous very, very quickly." 

Gooden’s lifetime ban on owning firearms stemmed from an assault conviction involving a 2007 fight in a parking lot where he pulled a knife on his cousin. 

In court filings, Gooden claimed he "learned from the poor decisions" of his past. 

Prosecutors argued he could not safely possess firearms and posed a threat to the public. The judge ultimately refused to restore Gooden’s right to own a gun.