Ghost guns ban law weighed by Minnesota Supreme Court

An effort to dismantle a state law banning the possession of ghost guns was heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The case could have profound implications not only for gun owners across Minnesota but also law enforcement’s ability to get ghost guns off the streets.

At issue is a Minnesota state statute that bans the simple possession of a firearm without a serial number.

The law has been increasingly leveraged by law enforcement to charge hundreds of criminal cases in recent years. At least 170 people were charged last year, which is 10 times the amount in 2020.

But defense attorneys in one of those cases are now seeking to upend the law itself.

The Anoka County Case

The case stems from a single vehicle rollover in Anoka County where Logan Vagle was criminally charged after troopers found a Glock 19 pistol without a serial number, which Vagle called a ghost gun.

A district judge in Anoka County ruled the law was unconstitutionally vague,

An appeals court reversed that decision, but defense Attorney Anders Erickson appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Erickson also pointed to discrepancies in state and federal law, including that federal law does not require serial numbers on privately made firearms or older guns manufactured prior to 1968.

"Looking at the plain language, if this court says every firearm in Minnesota is required to have a serial number then everyone that is in possession of a firearm that was manufactured before 1968 that does not have a serial number is committing a felony," Vagle’s defense attorney Anders Erickson told the justices on Wednesday.

Prosecutors maintain the language of the state law is clear.

"Anyone who receives or possesses a firearm that is not identified by a serial number is guilty of a crime," Assistant Anoka County Attorney Kelsey Kelly told the justices during oral arguments.

Prosecutors maintain Minnesota law regarding ghost guns is allowed to be more restrictive than the federal law.

"Anyone who reads [the statute] knows what is prohibited in the state of Minnesota," Kelly said.