Guns kept in your car can be considered as carrying in public, MN court rules

Keeping a gun in your car while on a Minnesota roadway can be considered being in a public place, according to a recent state Court of Appeals ruling.

The ruling came down Monday as part of the investigation into a man charged with illegally possessing a BB gun.

According to the criminal complaint, Kyaw Be Bee was arrested after being suspected in a catalytic converter theft back in May 2022.

While Ramsey County deputies searched his car, they found a BB gun under the driver's seat. Bee was charged with illegally carrying a BB gun in a public place.

BB guns are included under the Minnesota statute that prohibits carrying rifles or shotguns in public. To have a BB gun in a public setting, it needs to be unloaded and kept in a gun case. However, there are exceptions for people with pistol permits or under certain circumstances, like bringing the weapon home after a purchase or taking it in for repairs.

In pre-trial motions, Bee's attorneys were able to successfully argue that, since the gun was in his car, he wasn't carrying it in public. The complaint against Bee was dismissed by the district court.

However, the state appealed the decision, which brought it before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals leaned on a past case, State v. Serbus, in its ruling. Like the Bee case, the defendant in the Serbus case was charged with carrying a pistol while under the influence of alcohol after a gun was found in the center console of his vehicle.

In that case, the gun charge was also dismissed by the district court but made its way to the state Supreme Court, which ruled the vehicle could be considered a public place while on a public highway.

In the end, the Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the district court was wrong in dismissing Bee's complaint. The case will now return to the district court.