The Minnesota Supreme Court issued an opinion today that an air-powered BB gun is not a firearm for purposes of Felon in Possession of a Firearm and other illegal firearm possession crimes. The court reversed the felony-level prohibited person in possession of a firearm conviction.
Prior to today’s decision in the Haywood case, MN courts have routinely stated that BB guns and pellet guns are firearms, that convicted felons and other prohibited persons cannot lawfully possess. However, those previous case decisions improperly relied upon a 40 year-old case that said a BB gun is a dangerous weapon, but never thoroughly defined the word “firearm” as it applied to the illegal possession laws.
Haywood’s conviction and 60-month prison sentence were reversed. in prison, the mandatory minimum sentence for a someone who possesses a firearm while having a felony conviction for a crime of violence.
This is a common sense decision by the MN Supreme Court, where they only needed to conduct a “plain meaning” analysis to determine the definition of a firearm. This decision does away with the absurd result I have seen in my practice; where someone with a felony conviction buys their child a BB gun, and only later finds out they are facing a mandatory five-years in prison because the courts refused to draw any distinction between a child’s toy and an actual firearm.
Read more about firearm laws in Minnesota here.