State v. Haywood, Minn.S.Ct., 10/19/2016. The state charged Mr. Haywood with possession of a "firearm" by one who is prohibited from such possession. The "firearm" in question was an air-powered BB gun. Mr. Haywood said, no, an air-powered BB gun is not a "firearm" because every dictionary he consulted for the definition of "firearm" said that in order to pass muster as a "firearm" the object must use gunpowder or some similar chemical explosive force.
Now, the court of appeals had affirmed Mr. Haywood's conviction, relying upon a supreme court opinion, State v. Seifert, 256 N.W.2d 87 (Minn. 1977). "Law by dictionary" wasn't in vogue back then so the courts were much freer to decide cases with the result in mind, based upon what the particular make of the court perceived the legislative purpose to be. Seifert invoked a game and fish statute, among other authorities, to satisfy itself that the legislature meant "firearm" to be all encompassing:
In our opinion, the fact that the gun defendant used required gas rather than gunpowder to discharge its projectile does not mean, as defendant contends, that the gun could not be a firearm within the meaning of the term “firearm” used in [section] 609.02. Having statutory purpose in mind, we think that term should be defined broadly to include guns using newer types of projectile propellants and should not be restricted in meaning to guns using gunpowder.
Not so now. Justice Hudson says that the "plain and ordinary" meaning of "firearm" is an object that requires gunpowder or some similar chemical explosive force. The use of compressed air is nowhere in any of the dictionary definitions of "firearm."