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Question: when is a BB Gun a “firearm”?

Answer: When you bring it to Minnesota, under certain circumstances.

Just this week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held, in the matter of State of Minnesota v. David Lee Haywood, that a BB Gun is, indeed, a “firearm” for purposes of Minnesota law, dashing the hopes of David Lee Haywood that he’d be able to avoid both a firearms conviction for being a felon-in-possession, and an extended stay in prison for owning a BB gun . . .

Haywood was legally barred from firearm ownership because in 2005, he had received a felony drug conviction, making him a prohibited person in the eyes of both federal and Minnesota law. After his first engagement with the folks at the Minnesota Department of Corrections was finished, Haywood was back on the streets, but still was barred from exercising all of his constitutionally-protected rights because of this junior varsity Mark of Cain.

Alas, Mr. Haywood somehow drew the attention of law enforcement again. In 2013, the Minnesota Star tells us, he was pulled over for a traffic stop, during which the local gendarme found what appeared to be a gun in his glove compartment.

The object in question was a Walther CP99 Compact .177-caliber BB gun, which sure looks like a real firearm Walther P99 sidearm. The Court noted:

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 350 yards and a substantial muzzle velocity.

For the curious, Umarex USA’s website states that the CP99 Compact is a CO2-powered BB gun with a muzzle velocity of 345 fps, a capacity of 18 rounds, a barrel length of 3.25″, and an overall length of 6.6″. It has a ‘semi-automatic’ action, and a manual safety.

Haywood was charged with possessing a firearm as an ineligible person under Minn. Stat. § 609.165 Subd. 1b., which states that “[a]ny person who has been convicted of a crime of violence…and who ships, transports, possesses or receives a firearm or ammunition, commits a felony….”   The statute doesn’t actually define the word “firearm” in that section; nevertheless, the trial judge instructed the jury that “a BB gun is a firearm under Minnesota law.” With that kind of instruction, naturally, Haywood was convicted, which was the cause of his appeal.

Before the Court of Appeals, Haywood put forth the argument you’d pretty much expect, citing such fundamental authorities as Black’s Law Dictionary (referring to a firearm as a “weapon that expels a projectile (such as a bullet or pellets) by the combustion of gunpowder or other explosives”), Random House Unabridged Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (“a weapon from which a shot is discharged by gunpowder”.) “The BB gun in this case,” Haywood’s argument went, ” ‘cannot reasonably be considered a firearm’ because it does not utilize explosive force.”

Haywood also pointed to other parts of Minnesota code that expressly defined the term “firearm” as excluding BB guns, such as Minn. Stat. § 609.666, subd. 1 (2012) (defining “firearm” as “a device designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled a projectile by the force of any explosion or force of combustion”) and Minn. Stat. § 609.669, subd. 2(2) (2012) (defining “firearm” as “any weapon which is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive; or the frame or receiver of any such weapon”).

The Court of Appeals was having none of it, though. Although the term “firearm” had been left undefined in the law barring possession of a gun by a felon, a 1977 Minnesota Supreme Court opinion involving an armed robbery in which a Crossman .177-caliber CO2 BB pistol was used — State v. Seifert – had expanded the definition of the term to include CO2-powered BB guns. It also referred to a couple of subsequent cases in the Court of Appeals that held that a Crossman 760 Pump Master BB gun and a Walther PPK/S BB gun also were considered firearms (in the latter case, State v. Fleming, the Court of Appeals held that the term “firearm” “includes any gun from which a shot may be discharged by ‘gas[] or compressed air.'”) Since the Minnesota legislature never bothered changing the definition of “firearm” for the statute at issue, after the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling, “the legislature presumptively adopted the Minnesota Supreme Court’s definition.”

As a result of the Court’s reasoning, Haywood is out of luck and back in the cooler, where he’s expected to stay until around 2017. According to his lawyer, he intends to appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but given that the precedents cited by the Court of Appeals, I wouldn’t exactly be calling London to place any bets on him at this point.

The prosecutors, of course, celebrated the decision:

“It doesn’t matter if you bought a BB gun at Wal-Mart or a handgun at a gun shop,” said special assistant state public defender Grant Gibeau of the court’s reasoning. “Regardless of motive or intent, if you aren’t allowed to possess a firearm, you will end up going to prison….”

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said Monday’s ruling gives more clarity to the issue. Today’s BB guns have greater velocity and range than BB guns from years ago, he said.

“Many BB guns are made to replicate popular firearms,” he said. “It’s a dangerous situation for the public and law enforcement. The guns can kill people.”

Well, I suppose that’s true. Shoot someone in the temple with a BB gun or an air rifle (especially at close range) and you could put them in a world of hurt.

Still, while the reasoning behind the decision seems sound, I am left wondering if the Minnesota Courts would hold that my old toy Star Trek phaser that shoots plastic discs via spring action that is surely still hidden away in a closet in my dad’s house would also meet this definition of “firearm”. That seems…anomalous to say the least.

Via randomactsofgeekery.blogspot.com.

If you find yourself wondering whether or not Minnesota courts would so expansively construe the term “firearm” when applying constitutional protections to the right to keep and bear arms, worry not! The Land of 10,000 Lakes is one of only six states in the Union that does not have a provision in the state constitution protecting the right to keep and bear arms. There was apparently an initiative to amend the Constitution in 2012, but it apparently failed to get on the ballot.

DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.

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94 Responses to Minnesota Court: BB Guns are “Firearms”

      • The word firearm is made of up two root words.

        Arm – meaning weapon

        Fire – meaning fire

        This is certainly a time for jury nullification

        • The issue is a helluva lot more complex than that. This is certainly a time for law school matriculation.

        • I guess what frosts me most about this stuff is the capricious, inconsistent, and “when-it-suits-us” application of these dramatic overreaches in the law. He’s going to the clink for “owning a firearm” yet the same “firearm” will continue to be sold at stores without the need for an FFL or 4473. One of the worst cases I’ve ever heard is currently ongoing – a teenage boy is being charged *as an adult* with possessing child pornography on his phone – a photo of himself in his birthday suit. So, for the purposes of evidence, he’s a child but for the purposes of prosecution he’s an adult……

  1. It seems as if the judges willfully ignored the definition of the law and are using bad precedence. A pellet gun shooting at 345fps may be able to do some damage, but it definitely isn’t “faster than old pellet guns.” My Crosman will shoot a heavier .22 pellet at 100FPS faster.

    Now then, if the intent is to use one of these weapons in a manner to convince people it is a real one, game on for prosecution as a real one.

    • The intent doesn’t matter – that’s thought crime. If it was indeed used in a crime, then existing statutes concerning that crime come into play, and I am certain a BB-gun used in the commission would be an aggravating circumstance. There would be no need to bend a twist the law or the definition of “firearm” if that was the case. So I am suspicious of jury instructions and believe that justice was NOT served in this case.

  2. “… the CP99 Compact is a CO2-powered BB gun with a muzzle velocity of 345 fps…”

    In Colorado, any BB gun or pellet gun which has a muzzle velocity of 300+ fps is considered a firearm.

      • Fastest drive i’ve found is 227mph, or 332fps. So, that’s “firearm” speeds according to Colorado. 1.68″ diameter, I wonder if they consider it a destructive device?

      • Only the Denver Metro area, which, of course, does include Boulder. Where anti-2A legislators are recalled, or resign, so their party can replace them with an identical tool.

        Once you get to the part of the state where you pee to the Pacific, things are alright except for a few pockets of liberal resistance (cough-Aspen-cough)…

    • Two felonies and two stints in the can,for nothing of any import. I imagine with that his future employment prospects “brightened” by these events, he just might turn the corner on his “non” status.

        • neiowa, I haven’t touched pot in almost a decade. Just makes me sleepy. But I do have issues with a government trying to keep people from choosing what chemicals they wish to take to make them feel good.

          Were alcohol invented today, it’d be Schedule I or II.

    • Well, smart people generally (a) avoid getting on the panel in the first place or (b) get struck by one or the other of the attorneys–so who does that leave?

  3. When a family of raccoons took up residence in a tree in our yard, I considered buying a high powered BB gun to eliminate the problem. I called the police and found out that in my city (in NC) a BB gun was also considered a firearm and could not be discharged within city limits. I was considering getting a .177 BB rifle, which can propel the pellet at 1,000 to 1,250 fps depending on the model. Let’s face it — that’s faster than many handgun bullets. So it’s hard to quarrel with this ruling, even though the BB pistols are not nearly as potent. Concerning Mr. Haywood, the genius from Minnesota, carrying a replica BB gun that looks so close to the real thing when you have a criminal record is also a good way to get killed by a cop.

    • I’d guess the “look alike” is why he had it in the first place. Still I think it unreasonable to expect a citizen to study SC cases to know whether or not one would be in violation. If the law as codified says it’s not a weapon, that should suffice until the Legislature changes it, not some robed gallery. We have things backward in this country at times.

      • Except the law didn’t say that it wasn’t a firearm. The law just didn’t say anything about it. The judiciary looked at the law and saw an exemption that wasn’t here, that was elsewhere.

        When thrown out of cars, all birds, except penguins, can fly.
        When thrown off of ladders, all birds, except penguins, can fly.
        When thrown off of buildings, all birds can fly.

        Since I called out penguins the first two times, do you assume that I was excluding penguins the third time and forgot or do you presume that my lack of exclusion was intentional and decide for yourself if penguins can fly? The judiciary took the latter route. If I don’t bother to correct you, you can operate under the presumption I agree. Same thing here with the legislature.

        If anybody is to “blame” in this case, it’s the MN legislature for not updating the statute with the proper exclusion.

        At least the imputed definition appears to be limited to gas assisted projectiles – either expansion through explosion or CO2. I’m curious to see how railguns are handled in the future.

      • Drugs can, in some limited circumstances, screw up your life. So to save you from that, the police and justice system will definitely screw up your life.

      • ^^^ This. Deciding the danger posed by an gun, of any kind, based strictly on muzzle-velocity, is either ignorant or malicious (perhaps both).

  4. BB guns have been illegal in my neck of the woods for what seems like forever. the law states that any device/object capable of propelling a projectile is a firearm, and illegal to discharge in the city limits.

    BTW, this law probably includes soda straws if you want to sue someone.

  5. Fire… Arm… Hmm. So nail guns, glue guns, caulk guns, ketchup dispensing guns, tattoo guns, grease guns, impact guns… All could be firearms by the same insane logic? That’s going to help keep felons from getting a real job and staying out of trouble. I wonder if they can even be a cashier? That laser gun that reads bar codes is pretty dangerous in the wrong hands.

  6. That is nonsense. I could see this being true MAYBE if he intentionally altered it to make sure it looks like a firearm.

    Even then I’m worried this is absolute horse plop. :p

  7. Wrongful conviction.

    Compressed air is neither an explosion nor a combustion.

    Effective range of 350 yards at 345 fps?? Of a .177 diameter BB? Effective at what? Bouncing off of a persons clothes?

    I guess it is possible one could take an eye out at close range. Throwing a baseball would be more effective.

  8. Nevada statutes specify spring and air power in their firearm definitions. Vague statutes that create accidental criminals are not okay. This guy was running around with that bb gun thinking he was well within the law just to find out that he wasn’t under lawyerisms that a common person without access to an electronic legal law library would never be able to find out. That’s not okay.

    • The problem as I see it is if it is not treated in the same manner as a normal gun (For Nevada that means a BGC for a retail sale unless you have a CCW) then it should not be considered as such for purposes of punishment and enforcement.

      That is if a minor can buy one without going through the process that would be required to purchase an ‘actual’ gun, then this is foolishness. Sophistry and weasel lawyering.

    • Yes, I think the MN court made a mistake when it decided to expand the definition of “firearms” to include CO2-powered BB guns. If I was reading everything correctly, the case (Seifert) involved an armed robbery perpetrated in part with the BB gun, so I have a suspicion that this was one of those situations with a truly ugly defendant and the court more or less was looking for a way to make sure he was put away for as long as possible.

      I also note that Minnesota judges are elected, for terms of six years. http://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/CIOMediaLibrary/LessonPlans/Choosing_a_Judge.pdf
      I have such very mixed feelings about competitive elections for judges….

  9. Someone good at external ballistics chime in on this to check my math. Given a .177 in projectile weighing 8 grains, with a 345 ft/sec and a ballistic coefficient of 0.01, the BB would hit the ground around 100 yards away, even at a rainbow trajectory.

    How are they getting are 350 yard effective range… firing it off a cliff or in a vacuum or what?

    • Pretty sure the judge is misreading the muzzle velocity as range – just rounding from 345 to 350.

      And you’re talking maximum range. Effective range for these guns is much, much shorter.

  10. Just a thought not exactly on topic, but related, i feel that one who uses one of these firearm replicas (which can be had for a few dollars on Amazon) holding innocent parties at ones mercy to commit a crime, should be charged as if it is a firearm. It is becoming not unheard of for criminals to use these things, and then claim to Mr. Judge “it was not a firearm” (instead expect victims to wait to be shot to find out). As far as any reasonable person is concerned, what the criminal holds is a handful of deadly force, and should be treated as such, including police able to shoot a person in self defense who points one of these replicas at them (the orange cap deal is a whole other issue). Unfortunately, as in the case of this post, the idea can be applied both ways I guess. The guy was not a violent criminal (based on the post) and should have is 2A right restored upon release.

    • “Any reasonable person”? Probably hundreds of thousands of adults own these things. Are they all “unreasonable” to see the matter differently from you?

      It’s a long way from excusing a cop who shoots someone who has one of these to saying everyone who owns one is a criminal. I can tell the difference; can’t you?

      Outlawing carrying one in a vehicle I can understand; saying you can’t have one to use in your backyard is quite unreasonable to me.

    • That is a completely different scenario. Using a fake firearm to commit a crime usually carries the same penalty. Having a BB gun, thinking you are legal, then having Johnny law come in and change the definition of is, state, and firearm is BS.

  11. According to the hornady ballistics calculator, a .177 bb@ 7.9 grains, BC of .014, Max range is 175 yards with a 1223MOA hold. Velocity: 85fps, energy rounds to zero. Point blank energy is 2.

  12. “in the latter case, State v. Fleming, the Court of Appeals held that the term “firearm” “includes any gun from which a shot may be discharged by ‘gas[] or compressed air.’”)”

    Adding to Minnesota’s firearms definition, doesn’t a Nerf gun apply too? Straw pea shooter and toy compressed air rocket? Thankfully, my electromagnetically propelled gauss gun is exempt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0lSRRWkN9w

  13. In Michigan, handguns that shoot BBs or pellets have to go through the same registratuon-type process as handgun firearms. I think they call it a safety inspection.

    • If it’s a dedicated BB gun with smoothbore barrel, no, it’s not a firearm and no, you don’t have to register it as a pistol. If it’s a CP99 as described in the story here, yep, it’s a firearm, and until the 2A is enforced in Michigan you have to register it as a handgun. Since 2011 you don’t have to take it to the cops and let their secretaries ‘safety inspect’ it, you can just mail in the registration papers.

    • Jans, you are incorrect. First of all, the safety inspection was done away with in Michigan years ago. Second of all, BB and pellet guns are no longer classified as firearms in Michigan.

    • Governor Dayton is worse than Franken, IMO, although both are heinous. It could be worse, we have a Republican majority in the House, and this one travesty aside gun laws here are decently friendly. The whole permit to purchase thing sucks, but I like that signs have no force of law and that we have a parking lot law. Plenty of work yet to do, but we are making progress having just legalized suppressors this year.

  14. Gee carry something that “looks” lethal as a felon? The judge may be a idiot but this dude also MAY have had nefarious plans in mind. I in no way mean to suggest he deserves a term in the joint but why else would he carry a look-alike gun-squirrel hunting? Plinkin”? Threatening a fellow convict?

  15. It comes down to one thing. You get what you vote (or don’t vote) for. To some, it’s acceptable to let the other guy “pay the freight” to those groups fighting for gun rights. What is not acceptable, for any reason, is to be a gun owner and not vote to keep that right. Oh, if you’re going to say the judges were appointed, then who appointed them? Elected officials! VOTE!!! Every election!

  16. … because we don’t care about the more than 50% of murders we haven’t solved and won’t ever solve because we’d rather be doing stuff like this and busting pot smokers, it’s way safer and we’re cowards…

  17. This one leaves me somewhat conflicted.

    One the one hand, I’ve always taught that BB guns are just that – guns. They are not toys. Then again, I don’t consider bikes, sports equipment and fishing or camping gear toys, either. This does not mean that you shouldn’t get them for kids. Just that they are guns.

    On the other hand, the ruling sounds like it was a bit of a dodgy effort at interpretation to put away a bad guy who probably did have bad intent. Unless there is more to this story than is reported, I’m not entirely comfortable with that.

  18. “Still, while the reasoning behind the decision seems sound, ….”

    I would wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. If Minnesota law explicitly defines a firearm in other areas of its code to only apply to “true” firearms, and a definition or reference to a definition is lacking in the code upon which he is being charged, how can any “reasonable person” conclude, on the basis of the law as written, that an object that does NOT fit that definition is still considered a firearm? This amounts to insisting that citizens should keep in mind legislator’s “intent when crafting the law”, which is a moving target.

    It is absolutely not reasonable to charge someone with a crime when the law, as written, is either unclear or clear but does not address a perceived “edge case”. Doing this creates a situation where the law itself has no meaning, and can be “interpreted” however the justice system wants to suit the whims of the moment. If the guy had tried to pass it off as a real firearm in the commission of some other crime, sure, throw the book at him. In most states using a realistic replica carries the same penalties as using the real thing. But as far as I can tell that was not the case, at least not at the time of the arrest.

    • Unclear statute should be construed in favor of the defendant, not against him. (unless of course you’re in a police state, as Minnesota apparently is now)

    • I have lived on and off for 15 of the last 25 years. The only reason I can think of is that I am some sort of imbecile.

  19. Despite being reasonably enlightened otherwise (as far as gun law goes, anyway) Arizona also considers them firearms. I’d been thinking about doing some backyard pellet-gun shooting and was really glad I checked first.

  20. A CP99 is not a BB gun, it’s an 8 shot pellet revolver dressed up to look like a semi auto.

    In Michigan, it’s a firearm by statute, because it has a rifled barrel. Smoothbores at least .18 caliber and rifled airguns of any caliber are classed as firearms here.

    • In Michigan, it’s a firearm by statute, because it has a rifled barrel. Smoothbores at least .18 caliber and rifled airguns of any caliber are classed as firearms here.

      Nope, not any more. Pneumatic or spring powered BB or pellet guns, rifled or not, are no longer classified as firearms in Michigan.

      See HB 4151, 4152, 4153, 4154, 4155, 4156.

  21. #1, a BB gun or an ‘airsoft’ gun isn’t a firearm. However, if you point one of these realistic looking ones at a police officer or a store clerk, you will, rightfully so, get the same response as if you pointed the real-steel version at the person. Unfortunately we are taking a small portion of the story and forming conclusions. No one ever got out of a drug conviction because the drugs they bought off of the undercover officer weren’t real drugs.
    #2 Haywood was a felon. doesn’t matter from what. And why did he have that “realistic bb gun” in his glove compartment? I can imagine it wasn’t in case he felt the need to go squirrel or bird hunting while driving around.

    Lets be real here. Haywood was a drug thug and had the pistol because he could have it for being able to brandish it and intimidate others. He was using the bb gun as a “real gun” (if the prosecution could prove that). The same as if he used it to hold up a liquor store. How long would it have taken for him to be carrying that thing around til it got him killed, or he was encouraged to get a real one off the street, because no one called him on it.

    Using Haywood as a poster child over stupid gun laws is like using Michael Brown as an example of how police are to aggressive towards black teens.

    IMHO

  22. One week they get suppressors legalized, the next this. There are some idiots in that state, but there are many in other states. They’re called judges.

  23. My fear is that the courts’ language could potentially lead to BB & pellet guns actually being classified as firearms to the point of requiring a NICS check to purchase and/or transfer. I know it seems ludicrous, but remember that since it has been proven that they really are out to get us – then I’m not being paranoid. Shit, doesn’t the UK & Oztralia have restrictions on pneumatic weapons?

  24. Half a dozen other states define nonpowder guns either outright as firearms or as dangerous weapons. This isn’t all that unusual a circumstance.

    Also, even MN’s own law lumps BB guns in with firearms and even replica firearms in the context of numerous offenses. Now, one might argue that distinction itself is proof of their being different. Perhaps. However, it’s also proof that distinction or not, MN intends that BB guns be treated the same as firearms in the context of associated crimes.

    Too bad, so sad. Back to prison for you!

    By the way, it wasn’t simply the traffic stop that provided the premise for the search yielding the BB gun. It was that the defendant was also in violation of a no-contact order relating to a woman. He was being arrested and the search was pursuant to the arrest.

  25. Court: “Haywood’s argument might be persuasive if we were writing on a clean slate [but since the law is a convoluted mess replete with prior examples of arbitrarily defining various things as firearms for a host of disparate reasons having little or nothing to do with this case, the court is compelled to continue the proud tradition of declaring things to be firearms that are not commonly understood to be firearms because, #1 just look at him. And B, we have, like, all this evidence and sh-t].”

    I don’t see any way that this ruling makes the world a better place.

    • That’s hard to argue against, that this ruling makes anything better.

      Legislative neglect got them in this situation. It’s the Legislature’s role to refine the law and align meanings. If the courts swooped in and did it for them, it’d be judicial activism; a sin of its own not mitigated for delivering a favorable outcome.

  26. Here’s the thing, a simple search in the Googler indicates that Mr. Haywood (who many of you are defending) was arrested three times in ninety days. One of the arrests is simply stated as “Drugs” another arrest was for “Selling 3 grams or more of Cocaine, Heroin, or Methamphetamine” within 90 days of the other drug charge and the last one was the “firearms” charge. Being a resident of Minnesota and the Twin Cities in general I’m glad this p.o.s. is currently off our streets. We Minnesotans love our guns and they are a huge part of of our culture and if you’re not a scumbag and are a law abiding citizen you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Considering that we are a consistently “Blue” state we have still retained our gun rights and I continually joke that “In Minnesota even the Democrats love guns.” We can obtain carry permits with fair ease, we can own suppressors and at times it’s hard for me to make a decision as to what gun shop or big box store I want to go shopping for firearms or firearm related products at. Why is a convicted drug dealer driving around with a “BB” gun in his glove compartment? He’s definitely not shooting the finches that are pooping on his car, he was in possession of it because it mimics the look of the real Walther. The police and courts recognized this and that’s why he is back in prison.
    As for “BB” and pellet guns there are many .22,.35,9mm and .50 caliber air guns available in our state. I own a break action .22 pellet rifle with a wood stock that’s just as effective as my 10/22 at close range so they are not harmless toys and if this dips$&t would have pulled his “BB” gun on an officer of the law our fellow criminal he more than likely would have been shot by another more lethal “firearm.” Bottom line, he is a crimanal and will probably be in and out of prison for the rest of his life. Thank You to the officers and the courts for keeping this moron off our streets and away from me, my wife, my children and the rest of my fellow law abiding Minnesotans. Done and done!

  27. If its a firearm then any store selling them should have a FFL and be doing NCIS checks. Also every gun should have a unique serial number on the frame. Purchase of any handgun will have to be restricted to persons 21 and up. Any required waiting periods will have to be met and if required anyone who carries one will need a permit.
    All internet sales will have to be FFL to buyer to FFL for transfer. No private shipping of handguns through the USPS will be allowed.
    Airsoft and paintgun battles will have to be stopped since participants would be using a firearm to assault others. If this judge wants to go full retard then somebody needs to make him aware of all the violations of federal and state firearms laws being committed in MN daily.

  28. In Henrico county Virginia, BB and pellet guns are considered a firearm and therefore a no-no whether you are a felon or not.

  29. Before I come across as a dissenter, trying to buck the tide of gun rights, you should know that I am a concealed carrier and multiple rifle owner. Even My children shoot real weapons under my supervision. But it should be known, that air rifles were used in real warfare for 3 centuries. In the 1700’s and 1800’s a few European Countries issued air rifles to their infantry that shot 50 caliber bullets. They were effective out to 150yds. When muskets battled against repeating air rifles, with the capability 20 – 30 RPM, the requirement for powder actuated weapons to advance technologically was obvious and led to huge capital poured into development. The air rifles of the day were finicky, but much more simple to manufacture, train and fire. There was a time in the late 1700s that countries debated the air vs. powder issue. The Swiss continued their air rifle development specifically for snipers because they didn’t have to stand up out of their prone position just to reload, they used a hand pump to fill the bladder inside the buttstock. If things had been a bit different we would all be using air weapons and perhaps in the future we may well be. The gentleman in question possessed a toy, with the ability to MAYBE kill a squirrel from point blank range. It is not a firearm, by definition. I bet you could rob somebody somewhere if you threatened to snap them with a rubber band. But that’s not a firearm, and having rubber bands in your pocket does not mean you are concealed carrying

  30. From the publication: Firearms Laws in Minnesota, A Guide for Legislators

    Firearm
    “Firearm” means a gun that discharges shot or a projectile by means of an explosive, a gas,
    or compressed air. Minn. Stat. § 97A.015, subd. 19 Minnesota courts have ruled that, under th
    is definition, rifles, shotguns, handguns (both pistols and revolvers), muzzleloaders, and BB guns are firearms, but that a paintball gun is not a firearm. However, also see the definition of “pistol” below, which states that a BB gun designed as a handgun is not a pistol; thus, a BB gun pistol is not a firearm.

    Pistol
    “Pistol” includes a weapon designed to be fired by the use of a single hand and with an overall length less than 26 inches, or having a barrel or barrels of a length less than 18 inches in the case of a shotgun or having a barrel of a length less than 16 inches in the case of a rifle (1) from which may be fired or ejec
    ted one or more solid projectiles by means of a cartridge or shell or by the action of an explosive or the igni
    ting of flammable or explosive substances, or (2) for which the propelling force is a spring, elastic band, arbon dioxide, air or other gas, or vapor. “Pistol” does not include a device firing or ejecting a shot measuring .18 of an inch, or less, in diameter and commonly known as a “BB gun,” a scuba gun, a stud gun or nail gun used in the construction industry or children’s pop guns or toys. Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 2 “Pistol” is defined in Minnesota law to mean “handgun.” In federal law, as well as in the vernacular, the term handgun
    includes both revolvers 121 and pistols,122 where the latter term includes semiautomatic pistols as well as single-shot pistols and any other type of handgun that is not a revolver. The term pistol is sufficiently broad to encompass all firearms that are handguns.

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