STATE v. LAWRENCE GRANT, SC 18177

Judicial District of Fairfield

 

Criminal; Whether a BB Gun is a Firearm for Purposes of the Criminal Statutes. Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of attempt to commit first degree robbery in violation of General Statutes 53a-49 and 53a-134 (a) (4) and commission of a felony with a firearm in violation of General Statutes 53-202k. The charges stemmed from allegations that the defendant attempted to rob a man while armed with a spring loaded air gun designed to shoot .177 caliber steel BBs. The defendant appeals, claiming that the convictions should be set aside because the evidence was insufficient to warrant the jury's finding that he was armed with, displayed or threatened the use of a "firearm" as contemplated by 53a-134 (a) (4) and 53-202k. The defendant argues that a BB gun is not a firearm because it is not a weapon from which a shot is discharged by gunpowder. While the defendant acknowledges that General Statutes 53a-3 (19) defines a firearm as "any sawed-off shotgun, machine gun, rifle, shotgun, pistol, revolver or other weapon . . . from which a shot may be discharged" (emphasis added), he contends that the commonly understood meaning of firearm is a weapon which acts by force of gunpowder. The defendant also claims that, as the six examples of firearms cited in 53a-3 (19) are all commonly understood to use gunpowder, application of the rule of ejusdem generis leads to the conclusion that the legislature intended that all firearms must be discharged by gunpowder. Finally, the defendant claims that an examination of the legislative history of 53a-3 (19) lends further support to his claim that the legislature does not consider BB guns and air guns to be firearms.