Surprise: Minnesota Supreme Court Determines That BB Guns Are Not, In Fact, Firearms

Seriously, this had to go to court to be recognized

(Star Tribune)  The Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a felon sentenced to five years in prison for the possession of a small BB gun, ruling Wednesday that the air-powered weapon is not a firearm.

Though the decision vacates the conviction upheld by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, it is not broad-sweeping. The ruling only covers Minnesota’s felon-in-possession statues, not someone who chooses to actually fire it.

Since 1977, the state’s two appellate courts have repeatedly agreed with the Legislature that a BB gun is a firearm when involved in various crimes, such as drive-by shootings. (snip)

The Supreme Court disagreed, arguing that the plain meaning of “firearm” does not include an air-powered BB gun. A firearm, it ruled, is defined as a weapon from which a shot is discharged by gunpowder. A BB gun can’t be defined in that way because it doesn’t use explosive force, according to court records.

The court said it was up to the legislature to determine the definition of a firearm, noting that things like nail guns work on the same principle as a BB gun, yet aren’t considered firearms.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said he was disappointed with Wednesday’s ruling, which would force the dismissal of any pending cases in which a felon was alleged to be in possession of an “air-powered” firearm. Choi called on the Legislature to provide further clarity on the issue.

“For the public’s sake, there should be a clear prohibition and serious penalties for felons who carry ‘air-powered’ guns,” Choi wrote in a statement to the Star Tribune. “These ‘air-powered’ guns are not yesterday’s Daisy Riders. They look identical to popular handguns, have immense firepower, and too often are involved in criminal activity or tragic events.”

It would be wise for the legislature to look at penalties for those who use air-powered guns as props for intimidation and crimes. Some of them are so realistic looking that even the most knowledgeable gun owners have no idea. But, they aren’t firearms.

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15 Responses to “Surprise: Minnesota Supreme Court Determines That BB Guns Are Not, In Fact, Firearms”

  1. Jeffery says:

    How about 1500 fps pellet rifles?

    15-year-old dies after accidentally shooting himself in the chest with an air rifle

    Adam Kordes, owner of National Sporting Goods in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania said most people are unaware just how fast pellet guns can shoot.

    ‘It’s not uncommon anymore to see pellet guns that shoot 1200, 1500, 1600 feet per second, which a lot of people don’t realize is significantly faster than a standard velocity 22 long rifle,’ Kordes said.

    Yonkin’s family held a memorial for Ty on Friday at his high school, Central Mountain, near Mill Hall, Pennsylvania. They are also setting up a soccer scholarship in his name.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2343260/15-year-old-died-accidentally-shooting-chest-air-rifle.html#ixzz4Nf7ynIli

  2. Rev.Hoagie® says:

    County Attorney John Choi said he was disappointed with Wednesday’s ruling, which would force the dismissal of any pending cases in which a felon was alleged to be in possession of an “air-powered” firearm.

    Another left wing radical asshole trying to bastardize the language for his own ends. Gunpowder as a propellant puts the “fire” in firearms. No gunpowder, no firearm. It’s an air arm or a air gun or air rifle but not a firearm.

    I’m curious as to how many hundreds of “pending cases” like this Choi has since this is the first I’ve heard of.

  3. Jeffery says:

    Reverend,

    Actually, it was the legislature that created the law not some left wing radical asshole. The current MN House is held by the GOP.

    Since 1977, the state’s two appellate courts have repeatedly agreed with the Legislature that a BB gun is a firearm when involved in various crimes, such as drive-by shootings.

    So it sounds more like an activist court overruling the desires of elected officials.

    Rather than just calling the wrong people names, would you favor the legislature specifically including air guns in their prohibition? Or do you find keeping felons from possessing firearms to be unfair.

    Why wouldn’t all felons who want to carry get cheap but deadly air guns?

  4. gitarcarver says:

    Actually, it was the legislature that created the law not some left wing radical asshole. The current MN House is held by the GOP.

    When the law was passed in 2014, the Minnesota legislature was under the control of Democrats, Jeffery.

    So it sounds more like an activist court overruling the desires of elected officials.

    It may sound that way to you, but not to the rest of the world. The Court noted that the term “firearm” is never defined by the statute. The precedence in Minnesota and indeed in the US for cases before the Supreme Court that without being defined, the meaning of a word takes on the common, accepted meaning.

    As Rev.Hoagie® noted, a “firearm” must use “fire” to propel the projectile.

    The Court also noted that in other sections of the Minnesota statutes, the statutes made clear the distinction between a firearm and an air gun. Even the statutes show that an air gun and firearm are not the same.

    Why wouldn’t all felons who want to carry get cheap but deadly air guns?

    That’s an interesting question and one that the kills your opinion. There is a law in Minnesota that makes illegal the use of “a firearm, air gun or gun of any kind” in the commission of an illegal act.

    Therefore by any reasoned thought, a BB pistol is not a firearm according to Minnesota law.

  5. Jeffery says:

    There is a law in Minnesota that makes illegal the use of “a firearm, air gun or gun of any kind” in the commission of an illegal act.

    That’s great. Problem solved; no more crime in MN.

    But in fact I actually agree with you. Felons should have their rights restored including 2nd Amendment and voting.

  6. gitarcarver says:

    That’s great. Problem solved; no more crime in MN.

    Ummm…thanks for proving you can’t read.

    Felons should have their rights restored including 2nd Amendment and voting.

    If that’s your position, that’s fine. I disagree with you but we know that liberals support criminals and deny law abiding citizens the right to defend themselves.

    The fact of the matter is that your whole screed before your last post was based on your ignorance of the case and the laws.

    I am not surprised by that, but it is what it is.

  7. Jeffery says:

    The law was created by the legislature, not an extremist left wing asshole, right?

  8. drowningpuppies says:

    This is my rifle, this is my gun…

    Hey, little fake soldier guy, how does the rest of that song go?

  9. Rev.Hoagie® says:

    There is a law in Minnesota that makes illegal the use of “a firearm, air gun or gun of any kind” in the commission of an illegal act.

    Using air guns in the commission of a criminal act being illegal is a no brainer. Using anything in the commission of a criminal act is illegal, isn’t it? If a guy robs you while holding a fork to your throat it is illegal, right?

    I believe after a felon has served their time, done their probation and paid all their fines and penalties and restitutions, they deserve to be evaluated on a case by case bases as to the restoration of rights. Common sense states we can’t restore a pederasts right to teach fifth grade nor an armed robber’s right to own a firearm.

  10. drowningpuppies says:


    I believe after a felon has served their time, done their probation and paid all their fines and penalties and restitutions, they deserve to be evaluated on a case by case bases as to the restoration of rights.

    Think maybe their victims so should have a say in it?

  11. Rev.Hoagie® says:

    The left wing radical asshole, County Attorney John Choi (sadly a Korean) sounds like the kind of “true believer” who would suspend a ten year old for biting his Pop Tart into the shape of a pistol. Assholes like that should never be given government authority. They don’t even say what the guy was convicted of. I guess Choi wants to have the government haunt the guy till he dies. I bet if you looked up Choi you’d find a (D) after his name.

  12. Rev.Hoagie® says:

    Think maybe their victims so should have a say in it?

    Actually drowningpuppies, I don’t. I think their victims should have a say at trial and sentencing but once the criminal has paid his debt the families only add emotion to a situation that demands fairness. There is such a thing as over-punishing a person. At some point we must agree he has paid his dues. Sometimes the dues are 24 hours in jail and sometimes the electric chair. No more, no less.

  13. gitarcarver says:

    The law was created by the legislature, not an extremist left wing asshole, right?

    Once again Jeffery….

    The law was passed by a liberal legislature and they did not define the term “firearm.” In fact, the term “firearm” and “air gun” are used as separate designations in other parts of the statutes the legislature did not say or mean “firearm” to be the same thing as a “air gun.”

    You claimed “…. it sounds more like an activist court overruling the desires of elected officials.”

    The fact of the matter is that the Supreme Court applied correctly. It was an left wing asshole in the DA that misapplied the law.

    You tried to blame the GOP for passing the law and the Court for overriding the legislature. Neither is correct.

    At first it could be said that you were ignorant of the facts. Now your continued defense and positions are nothing but lies and deflections from you.

  14. gitarcarver says:

    I believe after a felon has served their time, done their probation and paid all their fines and penalties and restitutions, they deserve to be evaluated on a case by case bases as to the restoration of rights.

    Which is the Federal law right now. A non-violent offender can petition to have their voting rights restored.

  15. Dana says:

    Jeffrey wrote:

    Felons should have their rights restored including 2nd Amendment and voting.

    [Guffaws!] Given that you don’t believe that people who aren’t convicted felons should have the right to keep and bear arms, it’s most Democratic for you to state that felons should be allowed to carry weapons. That’s pretty much standard Democratic Party policy!

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