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State v. Larson

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

April 24, 2017

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Bryan Lee Larson, Appellant.

         Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-16-571

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Samuel J. Clark, St. Paul City Attorney, Stephen J. Christie, Assistant City Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

          John Arechigo, Arechigo & Stokka, P.A., St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Cleary, Chief Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Jesson, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         The term "carry" in Minnesota Statutes section 624.7142, subdivision 1, subsection 4 (2014), which prohibits carrying a pistol in a public place while under the influence of alcohol, includes transporting the pistol unloaded in an enclosed case.

          OPINION

          JESSON, Judge

         Appellant challenges his conviction of carrying a pistol in public while under the influence of alcohol, arguing that the statutory term "carry" does not include transporting an unloaded pistol fully enclosed in a case. Because the plain meaning of the word "carry" in the statute includes transporting a pistol on one's person, even if the pistol is unloaded and in a case, we affirm.

         FACTS

         Just after midnight on December 19, 2015, appellant Bryan Lee Larson and two friends were given a ride in a motor vehicle to the First National Bank Building in downtown St. Paul. Larson, who had a valid Minnesota permit to carry a pistol, held a fully closed gun case, which contained an unloaded Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol. Larson approached the building on a public sidewalk with the gun case in his hand, entered the building with the assistance of building security, and proceeded to a basement room, where there was a gun range. In the basement room, police located Larson, who at that time had the pistol in a holster on his belt. Larson was under the influence of alcohol.

         Larson was charged with the misdemeanor offense of carrying a pistol while under the influence of alcohol, based on his act of transporting the pistol in a case on a public sidewalk outside the building. See Minn. Stat. § 624.7142, subd. 1(4). He moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of probable cause, arguing that the word "carry" in the statute was ambiguous, and the legislature did not intend to prohibit possession of an unloaded pistol securely enclosed in a gun case. The district court denied the motion, concluding that, although the word "carry" is ambiguous, the legislature intended to prohibit persons impaired by alcohol, or who are under the influence of a controlled substance, from having direct access to a pistol by carrying it about their persons in a public place.

         The parties agreed to submit the matter for trial on agreed-upon facts to give Larson an opportunity to argue on appeal that the statute prohibiting carrying a pistol while intoxicated does not apply to his behavior. The district court convicted Larson and imposed a sentence of 90 days in jail, with 60 days stayed. This appeal follows.

         ISSUE

         Does the definition of "carry" in Minnesota Statutes section 624.7142, subdivision 1, subsection 4, include ...


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