The Supreme Court in Minnesota will allow the release of a convicted felon after overturning a ruling that asserted BB guns are firearms.
A court case in Minnesota has recently set a new precedent regarding whether or not convicted felons can possess BB guns.
High-end air-powered BB guns, like the Walther CP99 Compact used in this case, have long been considered a firearm. Convicted felons, as a result, have been prohibited from possessing them.
David Lee Haywood, a Minnetonka, MN resident, is currently serving time for possessing the BB gun. A felony drug conviction in 2005 had prevented Haywood from legally possessing the air-powered weapon, but when a 2013 traffic stop led police to search Haywood's vehicle, officers found the BB gun in the vehicle's glove box.
The Walther CP99 looks nearly identical to the more common P99 handgun. Really: these two weapons are nearly indistinguishable from one another, and in fact, the air-powered CP99 is often used as a training mechanism for first time handgun users. However, the two weapons rely on completely different ammunition and propulsion methods.
At the trial, Haywood was convicted of possessing a firearm, as the jury understood it. The Minnesota Supreme Court recently disagreed. The high court argued that a fundamental principle of firearms is that they require the use of gunpowder. By the current definition, other common tools like nail guns would also fall under the definition of a firearm.
With the overturned ruling, Haywood will be considered for early release. Other convicted felons facing similar charges may also have their sentences reduced.