CASE LAW UPDATE: Whether a distress flare launcher is not a firearm?
At issue in this case was whether a distress flare launcher is a “firearm” under Minnesota Statute §624.713, subd. 1. The trial court held that it was not. The Minnesota Court of Appeals disagreed, concluding that it depended on whether or not defendant intended to use it as a weapon. The Minnesota Supreme Court held that, for purposes of this statute, a “firearm” is an instrument designed for attack or defense that expels a projectile by the action or force or gunpowder, combustion, or some other explosive force. Because a distress flare launcher is not such an instrument, it is not a firearm.
Herein, the Minnesota Court of Appeals overstepped its bounds. Criminal law is required to be very precise. A lack of precision in criminal law is a violation of due process of law. Due process of law requires that people be put on notice, in advance, of exactly what conduct constitutes a crime. Moreover, a court cannot draft legislation, nor make law. Here, the Minnesota Court of Appeals impermissibly overbroadly interpreted the statute defining a firearm. A firearm has long been very specifically defined. Herein, a distress launcher is not a firearm.
State v. Glover, A19-1656, Minnesota Supreme Court.
Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer Lynne Torgerson was not attorney of record in this case.