02 November 2013

Is a pellet gun a firearm?

State of Kansas v. Timothy Wayne Craddick
Docket No. Opinion Below Argument Opinion Vote Author Term
No. 108,335 N/A N/A Nov 1 2013 3-0 Pierron N/A

Plain English Summary: Craddick pointed his Ruger Air Hawk pellet rifle at his victims and threatened to shoot them if they did not put his dog on the ground (they had tried to pet his dog after it approached them while they were walking). He was convicted of attempted aggravated assault. The district court found that Craddick had committed his crimes with a firearm, which triggered a presumptive prison sentence under K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-6804(h). Applying this firearm rule, Craddick was sentenced to a controlling term of 11 months' imprisonment. The question before the Kansas Court of Appeals was whether a pellet gun was a firearm for purposes of K.S.A. 2011 Supp. 21-6804(h).

Ruger Air Hawk pellet rifle
Holding: The Kansas Legislature defined firearm as "any weapon designed or having the capacity to propel a projectile by force of an explosion or combustion." Therefore, a pellet rifle is not a firearm because rather than propelling projectiles by force of an explosion or combustion, it propels projectiles by force of air or gas. As a result, the Court of Appeals vacated Craddick's sentence and remanded it to the trial court for resentencing. It is important to note that this decision doesn't overturn his conviction. Craddick will be sentenced for two counts of attempted aggravated assault, but without the firearm enhancement.

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