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NFL, U of M win appeal in fight to ban off-duty officers from carrying guns at Vikings games

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The National Football League and the University of Minnesota have won an appeal in their fight to ban off-duty officers from carrying handguns at Minnesota Vikings games.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals Monday overturned an August 2014 ruling from a Hennepin County district judge who found the NFL's policy prohibiting firearms in stadiums violates the Minnesota Citizens' Personal Protection Act (PPA) by not allowing off-duty officers from carrying weapons into games.

"The district court ruled that the PPA prevents private-property owners from excluding armed off-duty peace officers. Because the PPA by its plain language does not apply to active licensed peace officers, we reverse and remand," the ruling reads.

This legal dispute began after an off-duty Minneapolis police officer was required to surrender his weapon before entering the Metrodome for a Vikings game in December 2013. In February 2014, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis sued the NFL, claiming the league's policy violates state law.

The Court of Appeals ruling says because the PPA doesn't clearly address off-duty police officers, it sends the case back to Hennepin County District Court.

"Our decision today should not be construed as holding that appellants [the NFL] have the right to exclude from Minnesota stadiums off-duty peace officers who are carrying firearms. We merely hold that any such right is not governed by the PPA. Other provisions of state or federal law may apply."

Minnesota is the only state where the NFL's 2013 ban on weapons has faced a legal challenge, the Star Tribune reports.

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