Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Kurt Daudt, House Minority Leader, did wrong, and why it illustrates how Stand Your Ground law is bad, and MN concealed carry permit law is inadequate

A summary of events, from the Star Tribune last month:
The lead Republican in the Minnesota House of Representatives acknowledged Friday that he was involved in a gun-related dispute in Montana in September that resulted in his arrest and felony charges against a friend who was traveling with him.

According to the charges filed by the Park County district attorney in Montana, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, 40, of Crown, along with Daniel Benjamin Weinzetl, 24, of Cambridge, had traveled to Livingston, Mont., on Sept. 7 to buy a vintage Ford Bronco.

Daudt got into an argument with the seller that escalated, the records said. While Daudt and the seller argued, Weinzetl went back and pulled Daudt’s black handgun from the car and allegedly pointed it at the seller’s “entire family, including the children,” according to court records.

Weinzetl was charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and criminal endangerment, all felonies. He posted $50,000 bail two days later and was ordered to stay out of Montana with the exception of future court hearings. He pleaded not guilty to all three counts in October. Daudt, who is not named in the complaint, was not charged.

Previous offenses

According to Minnesota court records, Weinzetl, a construction worker, has landed in trouble before.

His record shows multiple traffic offenses and he was found guilty in 2010 of assault on a police officer and obstructing the legal process, both gross misdemeanors, following a March 2010 incident in which he punched a man outside his home. When an Isanti County Sheriff’s deputy arrived at the house to speak with Weinzetl and his brother, Weinzetl shoved and punched the deputy, breaking his glasses and tearing his uniform. The deputy reported that he tried unsuccessfully to use a Taser on Weinzetl.
According to a statement Daudt made to the media, via KMSP:
In the statement, Daudt casts himself as a peacemaker in a tense situation. He said the friend retrieved the gun without his knowledge and stressed it was not fired. Daudt said the gun is owned by him, though it is not known if he has a permit to carry a concealed weapon in public. Daudt told KSTP that there were bullets in the magazine but not the chamber.
Daudt reports driving to Montana with the loaded gun under the front seat, and Daudt is a Concealed Carry Permit holder. While Daudt denied it to KSTP, he WAS apparently arrested in Montana, but not charged -- so far. His associate, who has been charged with multiple felonies, does not have a CC Permit, apparently, but would be eligible for one under MN law should he apply for one. The complaint can be read here.

So.....what did Daudt do wrong, and why does this reflect on Stand Your Ground laws, something likely to be introduced or attempted to be introduced, into the next session of the lege? And what does this incident show us about the problems in our current relatively lax Concealed Carry Permit laws?

First of all, multiple laws require that a firearm be transported unloaded and separate from the ammunition, in a locked container, and separate from the passenger compartment of the vehicle. This is true of state law for Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana law, and this is true of federal law. Holding a CC permit does not excuse someone from properly transporting their firearm when they are not carrying it.

Here is the MN statute, complete with link and the additional link relating to MN statute and transporting firearms:

2013 Minnesota Statutes


Subdivision 1.Restrictions.

A person may not transport a firearm in a motor vehicle unless the firearm is:
(1) unloaded and in a gun case expressly made to contain a firearm, and the case fully encloses the firearm by being zipped, snapped, buckled, tied, or otherwise fastened, and without any portion of the firearm exposed;

(2) unloaded and in the closed trunk of a motor vehicle; or

(3) a handgun carried in compliance with sections 624.714 and 624.715.

The first reference in section (3) refers to transport without a CC permit and is shown below; it is worth noting that Daudt was NOT transporting his firearm for purposes of repair or target practice; this is included here to illustrate that NO ONE may legally transport a loaded gun. It is also included here, because people who hold CC permits are expected to know the law. We should expect that to be especially true of our legislators who write those laws.

2013 Minnesota Statutes

Subd. 9.Carrying pistols about one's premises or for purposes of repair, target practice.

A permit to carry is not required of a person:
(5) to transport a pistol in a motor vehicle, snowmobile or boat if the pistol is unloaded, contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, or securely tied package.
But Daudt was NOT transporting his firearm for target practice or repair across a relatively short distance in Minnesota. Daudt was transporting a firearm across all or parts of three states. THAT puts his transportation under the regulation of the federal Firearm Owners Protection Act, specifically the Safe Passage Provision, courtesy of Cornell Law:

U.S. Code › Title 18 › Part I › Chapter 44 › § 926A
18 U.S. Code § 926A

- Interstate transportation of firearms

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
"IF, during such transportation THE FIREARM IS UNLOADED, AND NEITHER the firearm NOR any ammunition being transported is readily accessible" is the relevant part of the law here, because clearly Daudt's firearm was in fact both loaded and readily accessible, apparently during the entire trip.

THAT was illegal, unsafe, and irresponsible, yet we are told over and over again by the pro-gun crowd who want to carry their handguns everywhere they go, that they are in fact law abiding, safe, and responsible. Clearly they are not, as Mr. Daudt's behavior is not particularly unusual, AND appears to have the support of his fellow MN GOP members in the lege.

But the manner of transport, and allowing his handgun to be easily accessed for an illegal purpose - to threaten a man, his wife and children - is not the only objectionable behavior by Minority Leader of the MN House of Representatives. That Kurt Daudt also did not report the crime to authorities, but instead assisted his friend to flee the state after committing what is an alleged felony is also unethical, irresponsible, and apparently illegal. Daudt does not deny providing his friend with the keys to a vehicle to enable him to leave the state. This was presumably not only to help his friend, but because leaving the state was convenient and expedient for Daudt, regardless of flouting the law.

I don't claim to be an attorney, nor do I play one on tv. But this is a common legal definition for Accessory after the fact, which is a crime. Once again, thanks to Cornell Law:

Accessory after the fact


Someone who assists another 1) who has committed a felony, 2) after the person has committed the felony, 3) with knowledge that the person committed the felony, and 4) with the intent to help the person avoid arrest or punishment. An accessory after the fact may be held liable for, inter alia, obstruction of justice.
We have an instance where Daudt knew or reasonably should have known (as a person instructed in the law to become a CC permit holder) that threatening someone with a gun is a crime, and likely to be a felony. He was present and a witness to the events, and therefore clearly knew that this occurred. And he obviously knew that he was assisting his friend to leave the state rather than to risk arrest and punishment.

As a law maker, and as a responsible adult, he should have reported what occurred, not taken off for the border. Instead he provided the means for his associate to leave the state, or at least, attempt to leave the state. Regardless of whether or not Daudt is charged in Montana, this presents serious concerns about how law abiding and responsible he is -- or more precisely, is not.

That Daudt further attempted to keep this incident from the public indicates he presumably knew that this does not reflect well on his judgment, either as a law maker, or as a CC permit holder who goes about armed. It does not appear that Daudt made even a minimal attempt to comply with either federal law or the state laws of Montana and North Dakota before traveling across those states. That would seem to indicate a fundamental disregard and disrespect for law generally, and for the laws of other states specifically, which is NOT a desirable quality in the Minority Leader of the MN House of Representatives. It reflects badly on Minnesota.

It is worth noting that the MN BCA website, re reciprocity of CC permits, notes that MN does not have reciprocity with either NoDak or Montana, and that it advises (but does not require) checking with other states before travel - my emphasis added:

Permit to Carry Reciprocity

Minnesota permit holders who plan to visit another state, and who also wish to carry a concealed firearm while visiting that state, are urged to contact that state before traveling. This will allow Minnesota permit holders to determine all restrictions or prohibitions regarding the carrying of concealed firearms in those states, as well as their laws regarding firearms and weapons in general. Most of these states have web pages dedicated to this subject. State firearm laws and reciprocal agreements may change frequently, and are also subject to court interpretation.
Beyond the conduct of Kurt Daudt, it is likely that we will see a renewed effort to pass some form of Stand Your Ground law in Minnesota from the MN GOP members of the legislature.

Prohibitions for CC permits:
518B.01, subdivision 14; domestic abuse

609.224, subdivision 3
Daudt's associate, Weinzetl appears to qualify for a CC permit, in spite of a gross misdemeanor assault in the 5th degree IF it occurs within 3 years of a previous incident of violence, as his prior problems in this regard occurred in 2010 - unless he is convicted of a felony or plea-bargains down to a gross misdemeanor in Montana for this most recent brush with the law.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in section 609.2242, subdivision 3, paragraph (c), a person is not entitled to possess a pistol if the person has been convicted after August 1, 1992, of assault in the fifth degree if the offense was committed within three years of a previous conviction under sections 609.221 to 609.224, unless three years have elapsed from the date of conviction and, during that time, the person has not been convicted of any other violation of section 609.224.
(iv) 609.749; stalking
(v) 624.713; ineligible because of being a minor, drugs, mental illness, etc.
(vi) 624.719; not an illegal immigrant
(vii) 629.715, subdivision 2; under arrest for a crime of violence during very narrowly limited criteria (out of state arrests do not appear to apply among those criteria)
629.72, subdivision 2; summary of above domestic abuse, protection orders, etc.
and certain violations of federal gun laws

I find it VERY concerning that someone who has demonstrated repeated disregard for the law and the tendency towards violent actions and a lack of responsible judgment, including assaulting a law enforcement officer, still qualifies for a Minnesota CC permit, apparently even after a felony arrest in another state.

Add to that the evidence that in Stand Your Ground states, there is a lowering of the standard for shooting another person from objective evidence of self defense to subjective fear, and include in that the number of instances where under SYG unarmed people are threatened and shot, and it is clear that SYG is a problem, not a solution. There is no evidence that our CC permit laws, expanded in the previous decade, have made us any safer, or that CC permit holders are as safe, responsible and law abiding as they claim. We have seen instances of CC permit holders engaging in road rage shootings, and cases of children dying from firearms in the homes of CC permit holders. Guns, as we have seen in the incident involving Kurt Daudt's handgun, are too easily used to escalate violence, instead of people resorting to other alternatives, including leaving the conflict, or calling law enforcement, and those firearms belonging to CC permit holders are not reliably secured from others. Kurt Daudt is an excellent example of why we should not pass an SYG law in Minnesota. States with more guns and more lax gun laws have more gun deaths, gun injuries, and gun accidents than those that have more and more stringent gun laws.

A special thanks to my co-blogger Laci for the assist in verifying legal definitions and checking applicable statutes.

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