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BB Gun Ruled to be a ‘Firearm’ in Minnesota

Walther CP99 Top P99 AS BottomLaw Shield members might like to know that the Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that BB guns are firearms in that state. We bring this to your attention because different states treat firearm-like products differently in a legal sense.

David Lee Haywood was charged with possessing a firearm as an ineligible person. Haywood was ineligible to possess a firearm based on his 2005 conviction of controlled-substance crime in the second degree. The “firearm” in dispute was a Walther CP99 Compact .177-caliber BB gun.

Haywood argued at district court and on appeal that a dictionary definition of firearm — “a weapon from which a shot is discharged by gunpowder” — should apply, making his BB gun not a firearm.

A district court trial by jury found Haywood guilty, and the district court sentenced Haywood to serve 60 months in prison. At trial, the district court instructed the jury that “[a] BB gun is a firearm under Minnesota law.”

The record indicates that the BB gun looks like a miniature version of a standard Walther P99. The record also indicates that the BB gun has an effective range of approximately 350 yards and a substantial muzzle velocity.

“Haywood’s argument might be persuasive if we were writing on a clean slate,” Judge Michelle Ann Larkin wrote in the opinion. However, Minnesota’s appellate courts have consistently ruled that BB guns are “firearms” under state law.

To learn more about your state’s definitions of what a “firearm” is, attend one of our upcoming seminars.

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