Little self-defense in Minnesota gun law, report suggests

Because of the way the concealed carry law was written in Minnesota, we’re not allowed to know immediately whether a permitted gun was used in shootings in the state (like this one, for example), or whether a crime was prevented because of one. It’s illegal for the police to say. Only a once-a-year report to the Legislature can be parsed to reveal reality.

This is the most interesting statistic in this year’s report: There was not a single case of a gun permitted under the carry law being used for self-defense in a carry situation. Not one.

Nearly 200,000 thousand Minnesotans have permits to carry guns, the report said. That’s about 14 percent more than the number of valid permits at this time last year, MPR’s Brandt Williams reported.

“They thought the streets were going to be running with blood, but statistically, it hasn’t shown itself as a problem in terms of an increase in the amount of gun crimes,” Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office told the Star Tribune.

He’s right. More than 10 years after the pitched battle over the law, it’s clear the hyperbole from both sides was overwrought. We’re not ducking road-rage shootouts, but we’re not fending off criminals, either, the Pioneer Press said.

According to the report, there were no recorded instances last year of lawful and justifiable use of firearms by permit-holders — for instance, a shooting in self-defense.

It’s possible, of course, that merely flashing a gun was enough to turn aside a ne’er-do-well, and to be sure, people who seek permits aren’t necessarily doing so for self-defense.

But the lack of self-defense incidents in the latest report (pdf) of the Personal Protection Act isn’t a fluke. The 2013 report also listed no cases of self-defense uses of a gun by a permitted carrier.

There was only one in 2012, none in 2011, 2010, 3 in 2009, none in 2008,none in 2007, none in 2006, and one in 2005.

That’s consistent with what many who voted for the law expected.

“I’m not going to make the argument that this makes us safer,” then-Rep. Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, said on the day the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the legislation. “I’m not sure that it does. But what I do think is that this liberty is one we have to fight for. Our forefathers fought for it and now it’s our time to fight for it.”