3D Printing & DIY
Matthew Walker Anderson's Minnesota Case
You should be aware of a case in Minnesota right now involving a young man named Matthew Walker Anderson.
Walker (he goes by his middle name) and a friend of his were stopped by the police in May of 2022 after they finished shooting on private land in Sherburne County, MN. A neighbor had complained to authorities that a stray bullet hit his property. No injuries were reported; this damage appears to have been accidental.
When stopped, Walker was in possession of two privately made rifles. The officer noticed the lack of serial numbers, and Mr. Anderson reportedly indicated that he'd built the rifles himself. It is federally legal to own a privately made firearm, and the state of Minnesota similarly has no law prohibiting the possession of such firearms. To the best of my awareness, Mr. Anderson is not prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, and he has no criminal history.
Police reportedly questioned Mr. Andrerson for a few hours and released him, having confiscated his firearms.
A few weeks later, Mr. Anderson was charged with two felonies.
He was charged with two counts of violating Minnesota statute 609.667(3), one charge for each rifle.
However, Minnesota 609.6679(3) is specifically written in the context of 26 USC § 5842. The federal law that Minnesota's state law references are part of the federal code that requires National Firearms Act firearms to be serialized.
Mr. Anderson's firearms do not meet the definition of "firearm" in the definition cited in 26 USC § 5842, which is as follows:
This is a little bit complicated, and I hope I've made it as clear as possible. Let's recap where we are so far:
- Guy gets arrested for having two guns without serial numbers (privately made firearms).
- PMFs are legal in both Minnesota and under federal law.
- Minnesota does have a law requiring that serial numbers not be removed from guns. As a corollary to this, they also ban possessing firearms without serial numbers as required in 26 USC § 5842.
- These PMFs are not NFA firearms, so in my non-attorney opinion, they are not required under 26 USC § 5842 to have serial numbers and, therefore, should not be required under Minnesota 609.6679(3) to do likewise. I see this federal codification as a dependency the state law relies on.
- The court, however, sees it differently and is electing to apply the federal definition of 'serial number' and the state definition of 'firearm' to this situation in an effort to retcon the existing state law into a blanket prohibition of privately made firearms.
I believe this is activism by a judiciary that wants to 'have its cake and eat it too' – an attempt to retcon existing laws to ban guns they were never intended to ban.
In recent months, Mr. Anderson has shied away from an agreement for a plea to a misdemeanor, as the prosecution is seemingly unwilling to come off of the felony charge.
The most recent development is below:
This is an ongoing situation. From what I can discern, Mr. Walker is just an average guy who enjoys building guns as a hobby. This could be any one of us on a bad day. There are currently options on GoFundMe and GiveSendGo to help with Mr. Anderson's legal expenses. If you can, please consider donating.
Find the case: https://publicaccess.courts.state.mn.us/CaseSearch and find case number 71-CR-22-923.