The ordinance, passed by a 5-2 margin during the City Council's regular meeting Dec. 13, did not extend a facsimile-gun carry ban to private residences, a provision Moorhead Police Chief David Ebinger wanted included. Chief Ebinger told council members he believed toy firearms pose potential problems at private parties and could also be used to intimidate during domestic altercations.
The proposed ordinance defines facsimile firearms as "any object not actually a firearm which is a replica of an actual firearm, which substantially duplicates an actual firearm, or which could reasonably be perceived to be an actual firearm."
Council member Mark Hintermeyer, who voted against the ordinance, suggested the measure not only violates the constitutional right to bear arms, but was also unnecessary because Minnesota law already prohibits the display of replica firearm with reckless disregard.
The Moorhead City Council, representing the city of 32,000 located across the Red River from Fargo, ND, is scheduled to revisit the ordinance on Jan. 10 for a final vote.
In addition to prohibiting toy guns in public places, Moorhead's proposed ordinance breaks new ground by specifically permitting fake firearms to be used for self-defense.
"This ordinance shall not restrict the use of a facsimile firearm for self defense of a person's residence or place of business."
While we can't say with ultimate certainty if it's unprecedented, it marks the first time we've heard of a law that encourages owning fake and non-functioning pistols for personal protection.
We'd wager the 77,000-plus Minnesota citizens who currently have concealed-carry permits prefer to own, train with and carry the real thing.