Sunday, February 17, 2013

Arizona Moves to Correct Contradictions in Firearm Definitions

Arizona, as with many states, has numerous definitions of what is legally considered a firearm. The definition of “firearm” is found in several different places in the Arizona legal code. This makes it difficult for citizens and lawyers to determine what is legal and what is not. People have faced prosecution for possessing items that most would not consider to be firearms, such as BB guns, airsoft replicas, squirt guns, or antique guns that are not legally firearms under federal law.

One man was prosecuted for possession of a firearm for a collection of parts that experts testified could not fire, but could be made to fire if nonexistant custom parts were created and installed on the existing components. By that standard, anyone with steel, files, and a hacksaw could be prosecuted as being in possession of a firearm.

In order to prevent confusion, Arizona bill HB2234 creates one uniform definition of “Firearm” that conforms to current federal definitions and insures that citizens will not be prosecuted under firearms statutes for possession of BB guns, squirt guns, antiques, pepper spray, and replicas.

Here is the proposed definiton, which may become a model for other states to follow:

"Firearm" means any loaded or unloaded handgun, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun or other weapon that will expel or is designed to expel a solid projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosive or a burning gas, that was manufactured after January 1, 1899 and that is designed to use fixed cartridges.  Firearm does not include a firearm that is incapable of being fired without mechanical repair by the use of tools or the replacement of parts.

Link to proposed legislation

©2013 by Dean Weingarten. Permission to share granted as long as this notice is included.

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