The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Monday to uphold the conviction of David Lee Haywood for possession of a “firearm” – in this case a Walther CP99 Compact .177-caliber BB gun. Haywood wasn’t allowed to own a handgun after a 2005 felony drug conviction, so he was sent back to prison after cops found the BB gun in his glove compartment during a 2013 traffic stop. Haywood argued that a BB gun wasn’t a firearm.

The Minnesota statute uses the word “firearm” but never defines it, so Haywood said the accepted definition of “firearm” should apply: a weapon that features a projectile fired by gunpowder. That’s far different from the operation of a BB gun, which uses no gunpowder to expel its shell.But Haywood, 37, was sentenced to a mandatory minimum of five years because the appellate court instead used language established in 1977, when the state Supreme Court defined a BB gun as a firearm using wording plucked from the state game and fish laws. FULL REPORT