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MN Supreme Court Rules BB Guns are Not Firearms

Late last year, the Minnesota Supreme Court settled an old dispute over whether a BB gun is considered a firearm under the state’s weapon laws, determining that it is not.

Furthermore, the decision overturned a ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals and reversed the conviction of a Ramsey County man. Since 1977, the state’s two appellate courts has, again and again, agreed with the Legislature that a BB gun is a firearm when it is involved in different crimes.

David Lee Haywood, 38, who had been convicted of a felony drug crime in 2005, was discovered in possession of a BB gun by police during a traffic stop in 2013. Haywood owned a Walther CP99 Compact .177-caliber BB gun - resembling a standard Walther P99k handgun, according to court documents - which was located in his car’s glove compartment. Law enforcement discovered that Haywood had violated a no-contact order filed on behalf of a woman who was a passenger in the vehicle, discovering the BB gun during the mandatory search.

Throughout his trial on the weapons charge, the jury had been informed that a BB gun is classified as a firearm according to Minnesota state law. In the Appeals Court, a 1977 state Supreme court case of an armed robbery - in which the defendant used a BB gun during the commission of the crime - was cited and upheld Haywood’s conviction.

However, Minnesota Supreme Court disagreed. The court had argued that the plain meaning of “firearm” does not include an air-powered BB gun, ruling the true definition of a firearm as a weapon from which a shot is discharged by gunpowder.

Haywood is expected to be released from prison in August.

If you were recently arrested and charged with a weapons crime in Minnesota, contact Brockton D. Hunter P.A. and schedule a consultation with our Minneapolis criminal defense attorney today.