September 21, 2006
Nonworking Gun is Still a Gun
The Michigan Supreme Court has issued a number of opinions of interest to statutory interpretation enthusiasists recently, including People v. Peals, 720 N.W.2d 196 (2006), which addressed whether someone could be in possession of a "firearm" where it didn't work. The courts had been relying upon this statutory definition of firearm: firearem means "any weapon from which a dangerous projective may be propelled by using explosives, gas or air as a means of propulsion..." with certain exceptions (e.g., bb guns). You would think that with that definition the gun would have to work. In Peals, the gun was missing many pieces, "including the firing pin assembly, the magazine, some springs, and part of the slides" and probably couldn't fire, and if it could fire, it would be 1 round at most. The jury, nonetheless, convicted, and a majority of the court affirmed. The dissent was, um, fired up about this. It's a great purpose v. plain meaning case.
They also issued another one that's worth a read, Paige v. City of Sterling Heights, which addressed what "proximate cause" meant in a workers' comp statute. The case involves some harsh and strong disagreement over basic statutory construction issues. There's a post below where a reader explained in part why the Michigan Supreme Court is so active in these areas. There are some profound issues the dissent speaks about that I can't summarize too easily.
September 21, 2006 | Permalink
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Tracked on Sep 21, 2006 8:33:23 PM