Would laws requiring citizens to pay for training courses and permits costs be ruled as unconstitutional if they were challenged?

I only ask because, in Minnesota where I live I need to pay for a $60 - $100 dollar 5-hour course, then pay a $100 dollar fee to the sheriff's office every 5 years in order to carry.

MN Carry Laws Source

1 Answer 1


It is unlikely that those requirements would be held to be unconstitutional. A fundamental right such as the right to bear arms can only be restricted in specific ways ("strict scrutiny") – compelling government interest (keeping people from getting shot accidentally), being narrowly tailored and the least restrictive. If, for example, the law also required passing an exam on the history of firearms, that would be overly broad. If the registration fee were $2,000, that would be too restrictive. But the law says that

The sheriff may charge a new application processing fee in an amount not to exceed the actual and reasonable direct cost of processing the application or $100, whichever is less. Of this amount, $10 must be submitted to the commissioner and deposited into the general fund.

The application fee is not just for the actual cost of applying for the permit, it also includes what looks like a $10 revenue source, and that sort of looks like an unnecessary restriction. I expect, though, that the state would argue that this $10 is necessary to defray actual long-haul expenses that could not be recovered given the $100 limit imposed by the law.

The law does not actually require a person to pay for a training course, it just requires a person to take a course (or hold employment as a peace officer in the sate within the year).

  • In practice, the case law, which only dates to McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), which held that an individual right to bear arms is enforceable against state and local governments, seems to be upholding any "reasonable regulation" notwithstanding a nominally "strict scrutiny" standard. I agree that this regulation would almost surely be upheld. This said, there isn't a whole lot of case law out there to provide clear guidance.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 18, 2019 at 1:12
  • That seems like a decent argument, but who decides what fees are too expensive? $160-200 is too much for me. Also, what other rights require fees paid to the government before being exercised? I have read some stuff about Constitutional carry that makes me think that these fees are likely unconstitutional.
    – MultiMike
    Jan 18, 2019 at 18:04
  • The source cited says that "Notably, the Supreme Court has refused to endorse the application of strict scrutiny to gun regulations, leaving open the question of which precise standard of review is to be employed " which matches my understanding. Most laws restricting constitutional rights are not subject to strict scrutiny, that is largely reserved for content-based restrictions of speech/press, and equal protection issues. Other restrictions face "rational basis" scrutiny or "intermediate" scrutiny, mostly the former. Jan 22, 2019 at 0:22
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    @ohwilleke The majority decision in McDonald v. Chicago does not mention strict scrutiny, nor indeed any level of review, leaving that question to be settled in future cases. I am not aware of any case holding alleged 2nd amendment violations to strict scrutiny. Jan 22, 2019 at 1:00
  • @DavidSiegel Fair point.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 22, 2019 at 1:50

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