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.


  • 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. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

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