Fleet Farm straw purchases violated MN Gun Control Act: Minnesota AG

The Minnesota Attorney General is looking to add to a current lawsuit against Fleet Farm, saying the retail giant failed to protect against sales of firearms to straw buyers, who then resell them to people who are prohibited from their possession.

Attorney General Keith Ellison has brought several claims against Fleet Farm for violating the Minnesota Gun Control Act, alleging, "repeated negligent sales of firearms to straw purchasers despite obvious warning signs."

A new ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim says that Ellison can now amend the complaint, authorizing him to seek additional penalties and fees from Fleet Farm, "to protect Minnesotans from unfair and unlawful conduct."

"I appreciate the decisions of the Court to allow my Office to bring claims against Fleet Farm and any business we believe has violated the Minnesota Gun Control Act," Ellison said in a statement following the ruling. "Yes, individual offenders who perpetrate gun violence must be held accountable under the law, but so too must businesses that sell firearms to straw purchasers and threaten Minnesotans’ safety."

The Minnesota Gun Control Act prohibits federally licensed firearms dealers, like Fleet Farm, from "transfer[ring] a pistol or semiautomatic military-style assault weapon to a person who has made a false statement in order to become a transferee, if the transferor knows or has reason to know the transferee has made the false statement."

In October 2022, Ellison sued Fleet Farm for five claims related to straw purchasers, alleging it "negligently sold firearms, aided and abetted these criminals, and contributed to gun trafficking in Minnesota by allowing guns to get into the wrong hands."

The suit in part seeks monetary relief from Fleet Farm profits from sales to straw purchasers, and newly added claims for civil penalties and recovery of attorney fees.

In January 2024, the Attorney General’s Office moved to add a claim to its lawsuit against Fleet Farm saying that Fleet Farm violated the Minnesota Gun Control Act. 

The case is currently scheduled to head to a jury trial by May 9, 2025.