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Judge Rules Permit Holders Cannot Carry Guns At Minnesota State Fair

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- A Ramsey County judge has ruled that permit holders will not be allowed to carry handguns at the Minnesota State Fair this year.

The ruling comes less than 24 hours before the fair is set to open its gates.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus and others sought a temporary injunction prohibiting the fair from enforcing its handgun ban. According to court documents filed Wednesday, Judge Laura Nelson denied the caucus' motion.

Attorney Scott Flaherty, who represents the gun owners, argued that the ban violates Minnesota statutes governing carry permits and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. He said the question isn't whether allowing guns onto the fairgrounds is good public policy, it's whether the ban is legal.

But attorney Leah Janus, who represents the fair's governing body, the State Agricultural Society, argued that fair officials have the authority under state law to impose rules they deem necessary to protect the "health, safety and comfort" of visitors. She also argued that a 2017 Court of Appeals decision that affirmed the Metropolitan Airports Commission's ban on guns at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport set a precedent that directly applies to the fair.

The gun owners argued that the rule harms them by stopping them "from practicing their constitutional and Minnesotan statutory right to bear arms." Nelson ruled that "the plaintiffs have long been aware of the Society's position on guns at the State Fair and that their extensive delay undercuts their claim of irreparable harm."

Nelson also noted in her ruling that "the right to bear arms is not without limits and is subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions."

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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