County District Court File No. 27-CR-15-10663. Reversed
Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael
O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Richardson,
Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Michael
W. Kunkel, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota
Considered and decided by Johnson, Presiding Judge; Reyes,
Judge; and Tracy M. Smith, Judge.
gun that is powered by compressed air is not a "firearm,
" as that term is used in section 624.713, subdivision
1, of the Minnesota Statutes.
Hennepin County jury found Lue Yang guilty of being an
ineligible person in possession of a firearm, in violation of
section 624.713, subdivision 1, of the Minnesota Statutes.
The conviction is based on evidence that Yang possessed a BB
gun that is powered by compressed air. On appeal, Yang argues
that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction
because, as a matter of law, the BB gun at issue is not a
firearm. Yang is correct because the plain language of
section 624.713, subdivision 1, applies only to a gun that is
powered by the explosive combustion of gunpowder. Therefore,
we reverse the conviction.
April 20, 2015, a Richfield police officer stopped a vehicle
that was driven by Yang. The officer arrested Yang and, in
connection with the arrest, searched the vehicle. During the
search, the officer saw an item under the driver's seat
that appeared to be a handgun. Another officer photographed
the item, removed it from the vehicle, and identified it as a
compressed-air BB gun. Yang does not challenge the arrest or
the search of the vehicle.
state charged Yang with possession of a firearm by an
ineligible person, in violation of Minn. Stat. §
624.713, subd. 1(2) (2014). At trial, one of the officers
testified that the item found under the driver's seat of
the vehicle is a BB gun that is powered by compressed air,
specifically, carbon dioxide (CO2) that is contained in an
attached cartridge. After the state rested its case, Yang
moved for a judgment of acquittal. He argued, in part, that
the state had failed to prove its case because a BB gun is
not a firearm. The district court denied the motion, stating
that a BB gun is a firearm for purposes of the statute under
which Yang was charged.
jury found Yang guilty. The district court sentenced him to
60 months of imprisonment. Yang appeals.
evidence sufficient to support Yang's conviction of being
an ineligible person in possession of a firearm, in violation
of section 624.713, subdivision 1, of the Minnesota Statutes,
given the state's ...