Gun Stories of the Week: Minnesota Defines BB Gun as “Firearm” and Maryland Pushes Other States to Adopt its Handgun Law
Top Story: Showboaters lobby for national adoption of Maryland’s handgun law U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has called on...
Top Story: Showboaters lobby for national adoption of Maryland’s handgun law
U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has called on other states to adopt handgun purchasing laws similar to the one Maryland enacted in 2013, which requires fingerprinting and licensing, and has amended a go-nowhere bill he introduced in June with financial incentives to encourage states to do so.
Van Hollen, joined by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, called for other states to join Maryland in requiring licenses to purchase handguns, claiming the rule works best to stem gun violence when it applies across jurisdictions.
During a Sept. 30 news conference at a Baltimore County courthouse, Van Hollen and Frosh said firearms flow from states that lack permit-to-purchase laws to those that have them, with guns often landing in the hands of criminals. Ten states and the District of Columbia have licensing requirements for handguns, but Maryland’s neighboring states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia do not.
Frosh has sent letters to the attorneys general of every state citing what he described as “clear evidence” that such gun-control laws have decreased firearm-related deaths where they are enacted. He pointed to studies from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, which found gun-related homicides dropped by 40 percent over 10 years in Connecticut after it adopted a permit-to-purchase law in 1995, whereas Missouri’s numbers increased by 25 percent after the state repealed a similar statute in 2007.
“These peer-reviewed analytical studies lead to a clear narrative about the impact of permit-to-purchase laws,” Frosh said in his letter. “Simply put, they save lives.”
Van Hollen introduced the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act of 2015 in June in a showboat attempt to nationalize Maryland’s laws. Of course, with the Tea Party-led GOP firmly in control of the House, the bill has no chance of adoption and is nothing more than a self-serving politician proposing a go-nowhere bill in a bread-and-circuses ploy for relevancy among a constituency he needs to be elected to the Senate in November.
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IN THE COURTS: Minnesota becomes third state to legally define BB guns as a ‘firearm’
A Sept. 28 ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that upheld the conviction of felon for possessing a “firearm” — a BB gun — has many scratching their heads and hooting in derision.
But one thing is dangerously clear: The court ruling expands the definition of “firearm” and reinforces a nationwide trend in legislating and regulating BB guns, pellet guns and airsoft guns as firearms — especially those that closely resemble “real” firearms.
As the result of a 2005 felony drug conviction, David Lee Haywood wasn’t supposed to have a handgun. A Walther CP99 Compact .177-caliber BB gun was found in his glove compartment during a 2013 traffic stop. He was found guilty of a felony in Ramsey County District Court and received a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.
“It doesn’t matter if you bought a BB gun at Wal-Mart or a handgun at a gun shop,” Special assistant state public defender Grant Gibeau told the Associated Press. “Regardless of motive or intent, if you aren’t allowed to possess a firearm, you will end up going to prison.”
Gibeau argued that the standard definition of a firearm is a weapon from which a projectile is discharged without using gunpowder or any explosive force. Nevertheless, when the jury was issued its instructions before empaneled deliberations, it was instructed by that a BB gun is a firearm under state law.
The instructions cited a 1977 Minnesota Supreme Court decision regarding the case of an armed robbery in which the defendant used a BB gun. In that case, the court ruled the BB fit the definition of a firearm in the state’s game and fish laws. In 2006, the state’s Appeals Court had a similar ruling in a case involving a BB gun and a drive-by shooting and ruled that a BB gun is a firearm in a case where a person convicted of a violent crime is barred from owning one.
In the wake of both decisions, the Supreme and Appeals Court have encouraged the Minnesota Legislature to comprehensively define the term “firearm,” but it has chosen not to do so.
The ruling reaffirms a confusing and dangerous precedent, said NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker, noting defining BB, airgun, pellet guns as firearms would make it difficult to teach children firearm safety.
“Generally, airguns are not defined as firearms under state or federal law because of the numerous negative effects such a definition would create,” Baker said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “In the case of state law, many states use multiple definitions of firearm, some of which may include airguns. For example, airguns will almost always be excluded from definitions governing possession, transfer and use, but may be included for criminal misuse.”
According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, New Jersey and Rhode Island — and now, apparently, Minnesota — classify all non-powder guns as firearms while Illinois and Michigan treat certain non-powder guns as firearms and Connecticut, Delaware and North Dakota list them as “dangerous weapons” but not, necessarily firearms.
Thirteen states impose age restrictions on the possession, use and transfer of non-powder guns.
There are also states that specifically regulate BB guns, which are air guns, but not necessarily always airsoft guns because they shoot metal shot, not plastic shot, which makes them different than pellet guns, so semantic-regulatory on and so semantic-regulatory forth.
BB gun laws vary considerably from state to state with some states restricting BB guns, while others have few or no restrictions. Not surprisingly, California and Massachusetts have extensive BB gun laws.
Meanwhile Michigan law requires that BB guns are subject to the same firearm license requirements, safety inspection certificate, and concealed pistol license requirements as other firearms. You cannot buy a pellet air gun in Michigan unless you have a permit.
Hawaii, after a series of late-September BB-gun shootings, is considering imposing tighter restrictions on them as well.
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STATE ROUNDUP: Florida bill proposes to shift ‘Stand Your Ground’ burden of proof to prosecutors
Florida State Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) on Sept. 15 introduced a bill that would establish a new legal standard in the state’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law for establishing when self-defense claims can block prosecutors from taking a case to trial.
Baxley, the original sponsor of Florida’s 2005 ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, proposes shifting the burden of proof from defendants to prosecutors, meaning that a prosecutor would have to prove that the defendant is not entitled to Stand Your Ground protection, rather than making an individual prove that he does fit the criteria.
According to the Associated Press, Baxley’s bill seeks to bolster the law just as the American Bar Association is about to issue a report suggesting ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws should be dialed back.
Essentially what Baxley’s proposal stipulates is that legally armed gun owners who brandish a weapon would no longer be under obligation to prove that their actions are in self defense. Instead, according to the proposed bill, prosecutors would have to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that gun owners who used their weapons were not acting in self-defense. If the prosecutor fails to do that, the gun owner is immune from prosecution.
The proposal is drawing criticism from within Florida and across the nation. Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino notes that Baxley, a former member of the Florida State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, is a “millionaire undertaker” who should be targeted by state ethics investigators for using his status as a state legislator to propose laws that benefit his business.
“Baxley,” Cerabino writes, “in a sense, is like a cardiologist who has devoted himself to promoting bacon.”
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CRUSADERS ON CREDIT: Financing now offered by AR-15 manufacturer Spike’s Tactical
Florida-based Spike’s Tactical, an AR-15 parts and weapons manufacturer, announced on Sept. 22 that it is offering financing for people who want to purchase its weapons.
“Ultimately, we want to put guns in the hands of every law-abiding American who wants one,” Spike’s Tactical spokesman Ben “Mookie” Thomas said in a press release. “Financing is a great option for people who are looking for different payment options.”
According to the press release, to be eligible for financing, individuals must complete a credit application, submit to a credit review and provide identification.
“This is a great option for people who want to purchase a gun as a birthday gift or Christmas present for a loved one, but would prefer to make payments,” Thomas said.
Rates range from 9.99% APR to 17.99% APR and the rate will be fixed for the term of the loan. The actual interest rate charged is based on the individual’s FICO score and other underwriting criteria set by Commonwealth Ordnance Finance Company, LLC who developed and manages the financing program.
Spike’s Tactical recently launched its new Crusader rifle which features a Knights Templar cross on the left side of the AR-15 and a Bible verse on the right side of the weapon.
Spike’s Tactical was founded the day before 9/11 by Mike and Angela Register and is headquartered in Apopka, Fla. The family-owned business employs more than 40 people and all products are made exclusively in the United States and assembled in Florida.
Spike’s Tactical says it mission is “to build the highest quality products and offer them at the best possible price to the consumer.” Its weapons are designed to military specifications for civilian, law enforcement and military use. All its products feature a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty.
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