St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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A Nonworking Gun Is No Defense Against Weapons Charges


What is the definition of a “firearm” exactly? In a 2002 decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals, a firearm may include weapons that are unable to fire at the time of arrest. Put simply, a concealed weapons charge may be brought even when a gun is unable to work.

Appeals Court Decision on Nonworking Guns

In the 2002 case of People v. Brown (No. 231354), the appeals court reinstated a felony weapons charge related to a firearm possession by a convicted felon. The original case ended when a mistrial was declared and the weapons charged was dismissed along with other charges in a larceny case.

However, the appeals court did not agree with the ruling saying the defendant’s handgun was not technically a firearm because it wasn’t working. The legislature has established that a firearm is any weapon from which a dangerous projectile “may be discharged,” which would include a gun that was incapable of firing due to defects.

When Weapons Charges Come Down

A gun charge requires the attention of a top criminal defense attorney. The People v. Brown ruling asserted the laws defining a firearm are not set in stone, which sent the defendant back in court to face charges anew. As reasoning, the appeals court noted that felons could sell or carry arms as long as firing pins were removed prior to the activity.

Taken in this light, the law’s clear intent is to keep weapons out of the hands of felons, but the ruling reveals gray areas remain on the books regarding the sale, transport, use and purchase of firearms in Michigan. Case such as these demand a skilled attorney in navigating state courts.

Contact the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC when you need the help of a top criminal defense attorney in Michigan . Whether gun charges or another problem result in court, you need the best on your side. For further information or to schedule an consultation with one of our highly experienced and reputable criminal defense attorneys please contact us at 269.982.1100 or visit

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