Disabled guns still illegal for those ineligible for firearm possession: Minnesota Supreme Court

Those ineligible to carry a firearm due to a previous violent conviction are also ineligible to carry disassembled gun parts that could be used to create one, according to a recent Minnesota Supreme Court opinion.

The opinion, filed on Sept. 27, responds to an Appellate Court decision and affirms that Minnesota Statute criminalizes the possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a crime of violence, and a group of disassembled and incomplete shotgun parts can be classified as a "firearm."

In a 4-3 ruling, the majority opinion ultimately supports the previous court conviction of Corey Lynden Stone, after law enforcement investigators found a disassembled 20-gauge shotgun in a backpack believed to be Stone’s in August 2020. At the time, Stone was ineligible to possess a firearm because he was previously convicted of a crime of violence.

According to the opinion, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) successfully used a bolt and a washer from a similar firearm to fully assemble and successfully fire the shotgun found in the backpack.

In the preceding opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed Stone’s conviction, concluding that a group of unassembled and incomplete shotgun parts is a "firearm" within the meaning of the statute, so long as it's possible to assemble the parts into a firearm.

The dissenting opinion by three judges disagreed with the ruling, stating in part, "The reason the Legislature prohibits persons who have been convicted of a crime of violence from possessing a firearm is because it is concerned that the person will use the firearm as a weapon and hurt someone. A person who has some of, but not all of, the parts of a firearm such that the firearm cannot be assembled sufficiently to be used as designed - as a weapon - does not possess a firearm."