QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Sep 20 2005, 04:00 AM)
This is a good one.
First off, let's define a firearm.A firearm is a mechanism designed to initiate the discharge of a bullet toward a target at a high rate of speed.
So if the bullet is not present, the object is not a firearm. Also, if nothing is targeted, the object is not a firearm. In other words, a pistol that is not pointed at anything, thus not targeting anything, is not a firearm.
An unloaded gun is simply a mechanism without any potential to do anything, other than club someone. Since the law does not call the object in question a club, the additional prison time does not apply.
A loaded gun that is not pointed at anything is also not a firearm, according to the above definition. We can modify the definition to include the term potential
, as such:A firearm is a mechanism with the potential to initiate the discharge of a bullet toward a target at a high rate of speed.
The problem with this definition is that a length of pipe becomes a firearm, due to the potential of making it discharge a bullet, as in a zip gun. It looks to me that without the bullet and powder, and a way of setting off the powder, a gun is simply a piece of machinery with no purpose. If the purpose is gone, so is the use of the machinery in the manner for which it was designed.
Using the gun as a trade token is another issue. It could just as well have been a stack of Federal Reserve notes, or anything of perceived value -- an antique, a jewel, a signed first edition Harry Potter book. The law does not address trade tokens used in drug transactions.
According to the definition provided in18 USC 921(a)(3)
, a firearm is defined as follows:
"(3) The term ''firearm'' means (A) 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; (B)
the frame or receiver of any such weapon; © any firearm muffler
or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device. Such term does
not include an antique firearm..."
(Who knows why the smiley and copyright sign found a home in my post...make them go away!!)
I would be inclined to say that an unloaded MAC-10, or for that matter, any length of pipe with qualities congruent to those of a zip gun, qualifies as a firearm under the legal definition of such, despite what Mr. Webster has to say about the topic. According to the legal definition provided, the gun in this case could be considered a firearm due to its capability
of conversion, allowing it to expel a projectile
(made possible by charging it with a full magazine, chambering a round, or providing by some means the explosion necessary to expel a round). From what I can see, the legal definition does not require that the weapon be loaded for it to be considered a firearm; only the ability to fire a projectile once it is loaded. Due to our newfound definition of firearm, the additional prison time does apply to the case at hand, since the firearm was presented to the agent accompanied by a silencer.
My question would be the meaning of the phrase readily be converted...
. Does the possessor of an unloaded weapon need to have a fully charged magazine, that attaches to the possessed weapon, in an area within his personal control in order to readily convert
said weapon, or does the weapon need to simply have the ability
of being made a dangerous weapon, despite where the nearest compatible round of ammunition may be located? This language, from what I can see, presents a substantial amount of ambiguity.
One other notable factor in Smith
is the fact that he had a virtual armory located within the vehicle that he was using as transportation. It could be argued that, despite the unloaded state of the MAC-10, the Defendant had several other weapons that could be construed as being used in the furtherance
of the drug transaction, and ensuing transportation, of the controlled substance.