Thursday, November 08, 2012

Got Air?

Got into a discussion with Mushtaq on FB after he posted a note about a NoCal man who shot a couple burglars who broke into his house. The shooting was good, but the shooter was a convicted felon, so the deputies busted him for possession of a firearm. Dunno what his crime was, it doesn't say yet.

Which raises all kinds of right-to-protect-yourself questions, and what being a felon does to your ability to own guns.

If you kite checks or get caught with a reefer, I'd be inclined to cut you more slack on the no-felons-with-guns rule than if you were an armed robber or a killer. 

In California, if you are a felon (or even convicted of some kinds of misdemeanors,) you can't legally own or possess a firearm or even ammunition, and the law there specifies a firearm as any projectile weapon that uses some form of combustion to drive a missile through a barrel. It specifically excludes pellet and BB guns.

This disallows black powder, but not bows or crossbows or spearguns. The Green Arrow notwithstanding, a bow isn't that fast a weapon, you need to do it with one arrow most of the time, and in a house-defense against multiple attackers, even a PCP speargun, which means you can fire it multiple times without recharging, you do have to reload a spear after each round, not so good.

However, there are plenty of PCP (that's pre-charged pneumatic) pellet rifles that are powerful enough to drop a deer. They are spendy, but I'd guess legal to have under the bed at if you are an ex-con.

I did a bit of research and came up with this, a PCP handgun designed for small game. The Evanix Hunting Master AR6 uses .22 caliber pellets, and granted a .22 pistol is not a rhino-stopper; however, six rounds at 900-1000 fps would likely give a burglar pause, enough to make him think maybe this house was a bad idea.

Just for you felons who need a heater for home defense ...


Steve Perry said...

Steve Perry Update: According to Sacramento Superior Court records available online, Rasmussen has a criminal history dating back to 1993 that includes weapons-related offenses.
In 1993, a jury found Rasmussen guilty of three misdemeanor gun charges and a fourth misdemeanor count of possessing a switchblade knife.
In 1996, he was convicted of brandishing a firearm, also a misdemeanor. In 1996, he was convicted of brandishing a firearm, also a misdemeanor.
Then, in 2000, he was sentenced to seven years in prison after a jury found him guilty of making threats to inflict death or great bodily injury, a felony.
Rasmussen is scheduled to be arraigned on the latest charges Friday, according to jail booking records. Maybe not somebody you want to have a gun ...

Anonymous said...

I really dislike news stories like this. The intent seems to be "Look! A Specific Gun Control Case!(But we're not going to answer the dozen questions that immediately come to mind.)"

If Rasmussen had been shot and killed by the intruders (no note in the news if THEY had guns) I suspect the news would have said "Ex-Felon Shot and Killed, Police Have No Leads" and let the story go away.

Maybe that guy is someone you wouldn't want owning a gun ... but honestly, I could say that about some people with no criminal record at all and I'm sure some people would say that about me.

Steve Perry said...

Definitely poor reporting. One of the early stories started with a line that said Rasmussen had been arrested, and three graphs later, said they expected to arrest him.

My interest was piqued by the old Paul Harvey question, What is the rest of the story? On the face of it, it seems terrible. Here's this guy just defending his castle against housebreakers and he gets popped. Outrageous.

The way the law works, certainly in this case, is that being convicted of a felony has associated penalties, one of which is that you can lose certain rights.

Sometimes its the right to own guns, sometimes it can be voting, sometimes it disqualifies you from various kinds of jobs.

Agree or disagree with the law, that's what it is, and Rasmussen certain knew this, given that he had at least four misdemeanor gun charges on his record and a deadly threat serious enough to get him a seven-year sentence. There are a lot of folks who actually kill somebody who serve less time. Had a woman in Portland just this week was sentenced to six years for vehicular manslaughter. She ran over a woman, killed her, drove away, had friends haul her car to a barn somewhere and hide it. They all hunkered down, but they got caught, and she's not the only one gonna do time.

If you are going to apply the no-guns law to felons, this seems like a case where it would be justified.

And the shooting was apparently good, so maybe a jury will take that into consideration.

And while there are folks who might think people with no criminal record and presumably no history of being a nutcase ought not to have guns, there is a theoretical presumption of innocence until proved otherwise. Rasmussen is a convicted bad actor; that's a different thing. If I had been the guy he'd threatened to kill? And yes, they found the gun only after he shot the guys, but given his record, I have no trouble at all believing he walks around strapped illegally.

Ian Sadler said...

Hi ya,

Down here in NZ a Police Officer was murdered with an air rifle...

Steve Perry said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see the laws change here to include air guns, Ian, if they get to be a problem. So far, there doesn't seem to be much happening in that arena. Probably because gunpowder weapons are easy to get on the black market, more powerful, and cheaper.

A good air rifle will set you back more than a good gunpowder rifle, same with the pistols. With the one I linked to here being about as powerful as a .22 Short and costing about $600 U.S., plus maybe two or three hundred more for a pump or cannister or compressor to feed it, the air pistol isn't apt to be anybody's first choice, save that it is still legal if you are a felon.