This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).


D. L. T.,


County of Scott,

Filed August 20, 1996
Davies, Judge

Scott County District Court
File No. 9506623

John R. Shoemaker, Shoemaker & Shoemaker, P.L.C., 212 Ridgewood Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403 (for Appellant)

Thomas J. Harbinson, Scott County Attorney, Susan K. McNellis, Assistant County Attorney, Courthouse 206, 428 S. Holmes St., Shakopee, MN 55379 (for Respondent)

Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Davies, Judge.


DAVIES , Judge
Appellant challenges the denial of his application for a concealed handgun permit. We affirm.

In January 1995, appellant D.L.T. applied to the Shakopee Police Department for an unrestricted permit to carry a concealed firearm in public pursuant to Minn. Stat. §subd. 2. 1 The Shakopee police chief denied his application, and appellant sought de novo review in district court. After a hearing and post-hearing letter arguments from both appellant and respondent Scott County, the district court denied appellant's application.

Minn. Stat. §has been characterized as a "general prohibition" on public firearm possession, and its purpose is
to prevent the possession of firearms in places where they are most likely to cause harm in the wrong hands, i.e., in public places where their discharge may injure or kill intended or unintended victims. The only exception to this rule is for persons who have demonstrated a need or purpose for carrying firearms and have shown their responsibility to the police in obtaining a permit.

State v. Paige , 256 N.W.2d 298, 303 (Minn. 1977). The exceptions to the general prohibition are to be construed narrowly. See, e.g., State v. Poupard , 471 N.W.2d 686, 691 (Minn. App. 1991) (exception in subdivision 9(c), allowing persons to carry a pistol between home and work, "must be construed narrowly to avoid negating" general permit requirement).
Minn. Stat. §subd. 5 (1994), provides for the issuance of a concealed weapon permit upon certain showings, including that the applicant has a need arising from either an occupation or a personal safety hazard. Appellant claims that he fits both of these categories.
I. Occupation

Appellant is a gunsmith and a federally licensed firearm dealer. In 1994, although he did not sell any guns and purchased only three, he attended approximately 40 gun shows, to which he carried guns and up to several thousand dollars in cash. He currently conducts his transactions only at shows or other dealers' establishments. These activities are not a livelihood for appellant, although he would eventually like to own a gun shop.
Given these essentially uncontested facts, the issue of whether appellant's gun-related activities constitute an "occupation" within the meaning of Minn. Stat. §subd. 5(c), is one of statutory interpretation, which we review de novo. See Hibbing Educ. Ass'n v. Public Employment Relations Bd. , 369 N.W.2d 527, 529 (Minn. 1985) (construction of statute is question of law "fully reviewable" by appellate court). We note that this issue is entirely distinct from the question of whether such occupation, if established, "requires" appellant to have a firearm within the meaning of the statute.
In light of the general purpose of the statute, we construe the "occupation requirement" narrowly and affirm the disallowance of appellant's application. Under the uncontested facts, appellant is not truly engaged in a gun-dealing business ; rather, for him it is a hobby . We affirm the district court's conclusion that appellant has failed to establish that he is engaged in an "occupation" within the meaning of Minn. Stat. §subd. 5(c).
II. Personal Safety Hazard

As the facts related to appellant's claim of a "personal safety hazard" are again essentially uncontested, our review must focus on whether those facts satisfy the requirements of the exception contained in the permit statute. This is a legal question, which we review de novo. See Hibbing Educ. Ass'n , 369 N.W.2d at 529 (construction of statute is question of law "fully reviewable" by appellate court).
In Application of Atkinson , 291 N.W.2d 396, 397 (Minn. 1980), the applicant argued that he needed a firearm permit to carry a loaded gun in his car because his personal safety was in danger while travelling far from home. The court affirmed the denial of a permit, holding that the statute requires a showing of "real and immediate danger" and that the applicant's identified hazard was "vague, general, and speculative." Id. at 400-01.
Appellant has substantial physical disabilities. He has had numerous surgeries on his back, knees, and wrists. As a result, his doctors have placed severe restrictions on his activities. He testified that he is not to do "real walking, standing, sitting, crawling, climbing stairs or driving cars * * * for any extended periods of time" and that he has a "five pound weight restriction" on lifting.
Appellant argues that these disabilities, combined with the fact that he transports guns and carries large amounts of cash, make him both an easy and an obvious target for an assault. The district court held that appellant failed to establish that he "faces 'real or immediate danger'" as contemplated by the statute because, in his 40 gun show trips the previous year, he was never assaulted or threatened. In addition, the district court reasoned that appellant's situation is similar to those of other disabled, elderly, or infirm persons who may carry large amounts of cash and that the permit statute was not intended to allow such persons generally to carry concealed weapons.
We agree that appellant has failed to demonstrate sufficient danger to require the grant of a permit, and therefore affirm the denial of appellant's application on the ground of personal safety hazard.
III. Relevance of Prior Permit Issuance

Appellant argues that under Appeal of Young , 521 N.W.2d 865 (Minn. App. 1994), the district court erred by disregarding the permit he had been granted in 1994. In Young , the court held that prior permits were "positive evidence" in favor of an applicant, but the court went on to stress that such permits were "still only evidence." Id. at 689. The Young court expressly held that prior permits do not convey a "vested right" in renewals. Id. The applicant in Young was denied a permit despite having been granted one for each of the prior 10 years. Id.
Here, appellant has held a permit for only one prior year. The district court's order incorrectly suggests that the prior permit is irrelevant. But consideration of that permit does not change the conclusion--compelled by all the other evidence--that appellant failed to demonstrate that his activities constitute an "occupation" or that he faces the "real or immediate danger" contemplated by the permit statute.

1 Appellant had a one-year permit in 1994 that contained certain restrictions. The case here, thus, involves what is essentially an application to renew the permit, but with no restrictions. The 1994 permit was issued after the district court reversed the Shakopee police chief's denial. Appellant testified that if an unrestricted permit was not granted, he still sought a restricted one.