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Broken gun still a firearm for felon-conviction purposes

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A gun that can no longer shoot is still a gun for purposes of federal firearms convictions, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The court affirmed a conviction of felon in possession of a firearm and a 188-month federal prison sentence in United States of America v. Steven Dotson, 12-2945.

Judge Richard Posner wrote for the panel that an inoperable gun that still could have been repaired met the statutory requirement that someone may be convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) for possessing “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.”

Posner wrote that Dotson “confuses ‘design’ with 'object' when he says in his brief that ‘the design [of his gun] has been so altered that the original purpose for which it was intended no longer exists.’ The object has been altered, but not the design.”

In affirming the conviction, Posner said the government was on shaky ground arguing in essence that a gun is always a gun. “But what if the gun is so damaged that it can’t be restored? What if it’s just a heap of twisted metal barely even recognizable as having once been a gun?”

Posner also offered for supposition an illustration of a realistic gun fashioned into a lighter. He further referenced news accounts of toys being converted into working guns. Those items weren’t “designed” as firearms per the statute.

“Surely the government doesn’t think that a felon who owns a gun that started life as a toy gun but now shoots real bullets can’t be convicted of being a felon in possession,” Posner wrote.
 

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  • Bad Gun?
    This story is ambiguous in that it does say where the gun was. The Indiana constitution states that even an exfelon has the right to protect himself in his own home and the 2nd amendment to the CONSTITUTIONN THE UNITED STATES that the people have the right to bear arms, PERIOD!!!

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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