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Old 03-22-2010, 04:24 PM
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Default Registering a pellet pistol?



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So I read my email newsletter from MCRGO (Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners), Michigan is somewhat unclear about what types of Pellet Pistols are considered "Firearms".
After reading this article I don't think I want to keep my Crosmann 1377 pistol in my car anymore.
From the two examples given it looks like the judges are just as confused as I am.

Since the state may go either way if you end up in court, do you really want to risk this, apparently the Michigan State Police are treating any pellet gun with rifling as a "Firearm" needing to be registered.

What are the laws in your state?
Do I really need to register my rifled barrel 700fps pistol?
What do you all think?

Link to web site with article:
http://campaign.constantcontact.com/...vAdVz-cw%3D%3D


Monday, March 22, 2010
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Purchase and Registration of Pellet Guns
by Daniel Bambery

Michigan law defines a firearm (MCL 8.3t) as,

The word "firearm", except as otherwise specifically defined in the statutes, shall be construed to include any weapon from which a dangerous projectile may be propelled by using explosives, gas or air as a means of propulsion, except any smooth bore rifle or handgun designed and manufactured exclusively for propelling BB's not exceeding .177 calibre (sic) by means of spring, gas or air.

Does this apply to standard pellet pistols with rifled barrels that are .177 since a pellet is not really a "BB"? I was also told (by someone...) that you had to have a Purchase Permit (or CPL) to buy a pellet pistol?

You asked one of the really good questions in firearm law. "When is a pellet pistol a firearm that requires a license to purchase and must be registered?" There is no clear answer.

Federal law clearly exempts pellets guns. To be a firearm under federal law the projectile must be powered by an explosive. No NICS check is required to purchase a pellet gun (pistol or long gun).

Pellet guns over 30 inches in length are not pistols and not subject to any licensing or registration laws.

So the only question is how Michigan law deals with pellet guns that are 30 inches or less in length.

A firearm is defined in Michigan law as, "... a weapon from which a dangerous projectile may be propelled..."

In order for an object to be a firearm it must first be a weapon and it must fire a dangerous projectile. Weapon is not defined in the statutes but a "dangerous weapon" is defined as "a firearm," which is no help.

The only statute that refers to pellet guns is 1952 PA 10 entitled "Death or Injuries from Firearms". The definition is explicitly limited to that statute. That law is the hunting equivalent of the automobile hit and run statute dealing with reporting injuries and giving assistance to the injured. It has no general application. Again there is no help.

However, the state police take the position that any device capable of firing a pellet is a firearm and must be licensed, etc. They draw no distinction between rifled and not rifled. They draw no distinction between propelled by an explosive or propelled by a spring. They classify the spring fired, smooth bore Marksman "Repeater" as a firearm. That seems clearly wrong.

"According to State law, pellet pistols are classified as firearms and therefore are subject to all the legal requirements of firearms (registration, CCW). BB guns, however, fall into the category of miscellaneous weapons." ("Michigan State Police Firearm Identification Guide" p26)

The MSP position appears to be that since the statute specifically excludes BB's it must include all other projectiles whether fired by springs or explosives and whether smooth bore or rifled. This would include pellet guns, bows, crossbows, paintball guns, air soft guns, and even PEZ dispensers. This is a failure of logic. There is no legal rule that if a law excludes one thing it thereby includes everything else. If that were the case the statute would read "only excluding smooth bore..." The MSP does not offer any support for the conclusion that all pellet guns are firearms-they just state it.

I take the position that not all pellet guns are firearms. Of course, Cabela's will follow the MSP interpretation rather than mine, irrespective of logic.

A rifled pellet gun is capable of being a weapon that fires a dangerous projectile depending on how it is used. It may be possible to commit a felonious assault with a pellet gun but it is not intrinsically a weapon.

We have appellate court decisions in Michigan on this issue. In the first one (People v Gee, 97 Mich App 422 (1980) cited with apparent approval in People v. Owens, 450 Mich. 943, (Table) (1995)) the court ruled that a pellet gun cannot be automatically equated with a firearm. It has to be of a greater caliber than .177 to be a firearm.

In People v. Scarbrough, 166 Mich App 185 (1987) the Court of Appeals approved the trial judge's analysis and conclusion that the Crossman .177 caliber pellet gun in that case was a firearm because it had a rifled barrel and: 1. a rifled barrel improves the projectile distance and accuracy; 2. a pellet has a pointed end and can travel further than a BB thus increasing its dangerousness. The fact of the rifled barrel and pointed end appear to help determine the dangerousness of the projectile. The court assumed the pellet gun was a weapon.

People v White, Court of Appeals Docket No. 264436 (2007) found that a rifled pellet gun that fires a .22 caliber projectile at approximately 400 feet per second and "has been known" to cause injury is a firearm. (A normal .22 bullet has a muzzle velocity of about 1100 feet per second.)

All these cases share the feature that the characteristics of the pellet gun had to be analyzed to determine if that particular pellet gun was a firearm. There is no definitive answer.

So we have a series of factors to consider in determining if a pellet gun is a firearm:

1. Is it a weapon?
2. Does it propel a projectile by explosives, gas or air?
3. Is the projectile dangerous?
Is the barrel rifled?
Is the projectile pointed?
4. Does it fire a projectile greater than .177 caliber?

If the answer is "no" to any of the first three questions, the pellet gun is not a firearm. If the answer is no to question number 4, the pellet gun is not a firearm if the court follows People v Gee; but it may be a firearm if the court follows People v Scarbrough.

My best advice is to treat your pellet gun as a firearm, even if it is spring propelled and smooth bore. It does not make any difference if you are right if it takes a criminal prosecution and $30,000 in legal fees to prove your point.

Just for fun: Is a pneumatic nail gun a firearm? Or is a stapler or a pea shooter? How about an automatic pitching machine?

Daniel Bambery grew up in Detroit and attended Holy Cross College in Massachusetts and the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. Since graduating from law school he has been having fun practicing law. He has been a public defender, federal agent, township attorney, and administrator of the Michigan Sentencing Commission. He has represented clients in all levels of Michigan Courts from Circuit Court Commissioners to the Michigan Supreme Court. He is a co-author, with his wife Carol, "A Common Sense Guide to Michigan Gun Laws". Although he has represented the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners and many individuals in firearm related matters he is still mystified by the high emotion felt by anti firearm people. His response to, "Guns scare me." is to offer to take the person to the shooting range. He believes that people are not scared by what they understand.
Old 03-22-2010, 06:40 PM
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It's an interesting topic. I remember looking into the topic a few years ago, and, while I don't remember the specifics now, I think I came to the conclusion that a pellet pistol technically had to be registered in MI.
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Old 03-22-2010, 07:37 PM
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What next slig shots and spitwads?
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:16 PM
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being from Texas- I get to ignore this thread
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:19 PM
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Being from Idaho, so do I...registering guns is a violation of the Idaho Constitution.

And what kind of weird laws do you have in Michigan that you have to register pellet guns, for petessake???

Last edited by Sage0925; 03-22-2010 at 11:20 PM.. Reason: addition
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwind View Post
being from Texas- I get to ignore this thread
Us in California can too.

No registration of air driven at all.
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwind View Post
being from Texas- I get to ignore this thread
Virginia as well...
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:17 AM
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same here in nc no probs with bb guns or pellet guns looks like you need to move we would be happy to have another prepper in nc
Old 03-23-2010, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage0925 View Post
Being from Idaho, so do I...registering guns is a violation of the Idaho Constitution.
Some folks have all the luck
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:30 PM
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NYC - Pellet and BB guns not allowed - get caught with one and you loose your real guns!!
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:39 PM
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It sounds like a shady area in your state, depending on which caselaw they decide to follow.

We dont have any kind of gun registration here, I am quite shocked that Michigan does.
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Old 03-24-2010, 05:34 AM
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Default Michigan gun laws

Ya, the gun laws here are real shady, and still too many restrictions, but things are getting better. Starting on July 2001 Mich became a shall issue state, so we can now carry concealed, but there are still many areas of our gun laws that need to be cleaned up. Our no carry...(I mean criminal empowerment) zones are still many.
I actually have been giving some thought to moving a little more south, maybe southern Indiana, or Kentucky, though I have visited relatives in Texes, and I like it there very much too.
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