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February 17, 2005

So then who is qualified?

Apparently Minnesota has some serious problems when it comes to guns and the law. Matthew Dirks is 23-year-old and lives in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul).

Dirks learned that USProtect, a Silver Springs, Md.-based security firm, was hiring guards for the Minnesota Air National Guard Base. Dirks signed up for a training class with John Caile, a certified instructor and the spokesman for Concealed Carry Reform Now, the Minnesota group that is largely credited with successfully lobbying for passage of the MPPA. Not surprisingly, Dirks "passed with flying colors," Caile said.

The first time Dirks went to St. Paul police to fill out a permit application, he was told they were only accepting applications from people who were already employed by a security firm. When he told the clerk he needed the permit to get hired, he was told he couldn't even submit an application.

A few days later Dirks went back and this time was allowed to fill out an application.

The MPPA is the Minnesota Personal Protection Act.

Under the MPPA, county sheriffs and chiefs of police were required to issue permits to anyone 21 or older who had completed safety training with a certified instructor and was not banned from having a gun for common-sense reasons like a history of mental illness or a past criminal record.

Nonetheless Matthew Dirk's application was rejected by St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington.

"It is my experience that security companies do not require a person to be in possession of a permit to carry prior to employment," said the letter, which was signed by Harrington. "In fact, security companies regularly assist their new hires as they apply for permits."

"Yes, it is company policy that [prospective employees] have the permit," said Pat Philbin, senior vice president of government relations and communications for USProtect.

Is Dirks someone who would be a danger to himself or others if he were allowed to carry a firearm? Well, the US Military didn't seem to think so. Dirks served 15 months with the Army in Iraq at Baghdad International Airport and Camp Dogwood.

Dirks' primary job in Iraq was repairing the weapons systems on Bradley Fighting Vehicles. He also stood guard with the M249 light machine gun and .50-caliber heavy machine gun. He has fired the TOW anti-tank missile, the 25 mm cannon on the Bradley, the M-16, thrown grenades and "a few extra bonuses that came with my job," he said in a recent interview.

Makes me wonder if St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington is qualified to be handling a firearm if he can't even understand the law he's been hired to enforce.

Posted by Jack Lewis at February 17, 2005 10:21 AM

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