Minnesota Attorney General Sues Sporting Goods Retailer for Selling to Straw Purchasers

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced this week that his office is suing Fleet Farm for negligently selling firearms to straw purchasers.  

“Gun dealers and retailers have a duty to be the first line of defense against people who try to illegally obtain guns and provide them directly to criminals or blindly resell them for profit on the black market,” said Attorney General Ellison in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica

“But instead of fulfilling their legal obligation to detect and prevent straw purchases, Fleet Farm ignored multiple red flags: they took money from straw purchasers and looked the other way,” he continued. “They put their own profit over Minnesotans’ safety.”

Per the lawsuit, Attorney General Ellison is seeking injunctive relief, with increased oversight of the company’s operations, and monetary relief, including confiscating any profits made from sales to straw purchasers. 

Fleet Farm, a sporting goods retailer with store locations in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, has denied any wrongdoing, insisting that it acted within the law. 

A spokesman told local media station KARE 11:

We strongly disagree with the Attorney General’s lawsuit. We comply with all applicable gun laws and devote substantial resources to training and compliance. It is disappointing that Attorney General Ellison filed his complaint without ever once talking to us.  It’s also worth noting that at the time of the tragic shooting in Saint Paul described in the Attorney General’s complaint, we were told by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that our team members had “done nothing wrong” and had complied with all applicable gun laws.

GunsAmerica reached out to the National Shooting Sporting Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, for comment on the lawsuit.  

SEE ALSO: Woman Charged With Murder for Someone Else’s Self-Defense Shooting!

Mark Oliva, NSSF’s managing director of public affairs, believes Elision is “abusing the courts to push an antigun agenda.”

“He [Ellison] knows that criminals lying on an ATF background check form is a crime, that being whether they are the true recipient of the firearm. That crime was committed by the illegal ‘straw’ purchaser,” Oliva explained.

“The sale of a firearm, absent any prior knowledge or reason to suspect the purchaser is not the true recipient, is not an illegal sale,” he continued.

In other words, the straw purchasers are at fault here, not Fleet Farm. Oliva emphasized the fact that even ATF investigators told Fleet Farm that it had followed all applicable federal and state laws.

What this appears to be is a publicity stunt to grab headlines, not a legitimate lawsuit in pursuit of justice. It also follows the recent trend of anti-gun activists and politicians filing frivolous lawsuits against the gun industry to damage its reputation and hurt it financially as hiring attorneys to fight these cases in court is not a cheap enterprise.

As always, stay tuned for updates.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Edward Allen October 8, 2022, 12:27 pm

    If the ATF said they did everything correctly, you are not going to be successful with your charges against Fleet Farm. If ATF had found anything wrong, and that includes misspelling of a name or city, they would most likely have taken away their FFL. ATF has already revoked thousands of FFL licenses this year for minor errors in paperwork.

    Just listening to this guy makes me cringe.

  • D.J. October 7, 2022, 7:25 pm

    Straw purchases are something to be concerned
    about , yes .
    But we’ve got the president’s crack- smoking , whore monger ,
    dishonorably discharged , criminal ass , ( and God only knows
    what else the little bastard’s done ) , breaking the law by the purchase
    of a pistol , that he clearly has no right to have .
    Nothing is done ?
    Until that P.O.S. is locked-up for life , I don’t want to hear any of this
    crap about straw purchases , possession under disability , or mental
    stability . They’re not serious about any of that nonsense .
    Street thugs walk around daily , better armed than I ever was ,
    including biden’s f-ing brat .

  • MarkJ October 7, 2022, 2:48 pm

    If anyone needs to be in jail, it’s Keith Ellison. Here’s hoping Republican Jim Schultz wins the MN AG race next month!

  • armad October 7, 2022, 11:30 am

    ellingson is a racist and a white supremacist. He is the worst MN has ever had. Bad congressional history and bad as AG!

  • jerry October 7, 2022, 11:23 am

    The federal regulation is clear: It is perfectly legal to purchase a firearm with the intention of gifting it to another person. Your obligation is to make sure the recipient of the gift can legally possess a firearm. This may vary in some states and cities. It is totally illegal, however, to buy a gun on behalf of another person. It is also illegal to deal in firearms without a Federal Firearms License.

  • Jack October 7, 2022, 9:54 am

    Form over substance. So many people are fooled, this allowing fools to get elected.

  • survivor50 October 7, 2022, 9:32 am

    Sooo… If you guy your KID a rifle for Christmas … you made a STRAW PURCHASE !!!

    OK… OK… so what was ” FAST AND FURIOUS ” ???

  • Roger October 7, 2022, 8:06 am


    Ellison needed a case to talk about proving he really did something during the time he’s been in office!
    How do you think it would look if his campaign sent out publicity that read ” Didn’t do a dam thing since being in office. “.

  • Bob Page October 7, 2022, 7:49 am

    Keith Ellison is a fraud and should be arrested for impersonating an intelligent person. The thing that alarms real people in this country is the number of idiots we have with voter registration cards.

    • D.J. October 7, 2022, 9:31 am

      “ the number of idiots with voter registration cards .” ;
      man , you’ve got that right !
      Amen , brother .

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