This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of:
Filed January 30, 2001
Stearns County District Court
File No. J99951515
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Charlann Winking, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant K.M.E.)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Roger S. Van Heel, Stearns County Attorney, Michael J. Lieberg, Assistant County Attorney, 705 Courthouse Square, Administration Center, Room 448, St. Cloud, MN 56303 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Foley, Judge,** and Holtan, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant K.M.E. challenges his adjudication of delinquency for possession of a dangerous weapon on school property in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.66, subd. 1d(a) (1998). He contends the district court improperly determined that the metal object found in his locker was a dangerous weapon within the meaning of Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 6 (1998). We affirm.
During a random locker search on April 29, 1999, the principal of appellant’s high school found a metal object resembling a knife in his locker. Later that same day, appellant gave a voluntary statement to a police officer stating that he made the object in metal shop class. He explained that after completing all of his assigned projects, he took three pieces of scrap metal and welded them together.
On August 18, 1999, appellant was charged with possession of a weapon on school property, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.66, subd. 1d(a) (1998). On October 18, 1999, appellant made a motion to dismiss the charge on the grounds that the object found in his locker was not a dangerous weapon. On November 8, 1999, the district court issued an order denying appellant’s motion to dismiss because it found that the metal object constituted a dangerous weapon. Appellant’s case was tried on stipulated facts on December 13, 1999, and the district court adjudicated him delinquent for violating section 609.66, subdivision 1d(a), possession of a weapon on school property.
D E C I S I O N
The interpretation of a statute is a question of law, which this court reviews de novo. State v. Coauette, 601 N.W.2d 443, 445 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. Dec. 14, 1999). “The objective of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate the intent of the legislature.” Id. at 445 (citations omitted). When interpreting a statute, this court should be guided by the natural and obvious meaning of the statutory language in dispute. State v. Newman, 538 N.W.2d 476, 477 (Minn. App. 1995), review denied (Minn. Nov. 30, 1995). “In choosing between possible definitions of a statutory term, [a court] must accept the interpretation which is more logical and practical.” State v. Murphy, 545 N.W.2d 909, 916 (Minn. 1996) (citation omitted). Courts may presume that the legislature did not intend an absurd result. Minn. Stat. § 645.17(1) (1998).
Appellant contends the metal object found in his locker is not a dangerous weapon as defined by statute. A dangerous weapon is defined as
any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm, * * * or other device or instrumentality that, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm * * *.
Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 6 (1998) (emphasis added). Thus, there are three categories of devices that satisfy the definition of dangerous weapons under the statute: (1) firearms; (2) devices designed as weapons and capable of producing great bodily harm or death; and (3) devices, which in the manner used or intended to be used, are calculated or likely to produce great bodily harm or death. State v. Moss, 269 N.W.2d 732, 735 (Minn. 1978). Because the object found in appellant’s locker was not a firearm, or used to produce death or serious bodily harm, the issue here is whether the object was “designed as a weapon” and capable of producing death or serious bodily harm. See Minn. Stat. § 609.02, subd. 6.
Appellant contends the metal object found in his locker should not be categorized as a dangerous weapon because it was not specifically designed as a weapon. We disagree. “Weapon” is defined as “[a]n instrument used or designed to be used to injure or kill someone.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1587 (7th ed. 1999). “Design” is defined as “[t]o have as a goal or purpose; intend.” The American Heritage Dictionary 506 (3d ed. 1992). But it is the objective intent inferred from appellant’s conduct that is controlling, not appellant’s subjective intent. See State v. Cooper, 561 N.W.2d 175, 179 (Minn. 1997) (stating that a factfinder may infer that a person intends “the natural and probable consequences of his actions”). The district court described the metal object found in appellant’s locker as a
hard, heavy metal handed object with a large guard and a sharp blade like end. The design of the object is akin to a large hunting knife but with an industrial size razorblade end instead of a typical knife blade.
Based on this description, a factfinder could make an objective determination that appellant intended to design a weapon because he made an object that closely resembled a weapon. See id.
Appellant concedes that the object found in his locker is capable of inflicting death or serious harm, but claims that the potential dangerousness of the object is irrelevant because he never actually used it. We disagree. It is correct that for an ordinary object to be transformed into a dangerous weapon, it must be “dangerous” and “used in a manner calculated to cause great bodily harm.” Coauette, 601 N.W.2d at 447 (citations omitted); see, e.g., State v. Trott, 338 N.W.2d 248, 252 (Minn. 1983) (three-foot long board is dangerous weapon when it is used to repeatedly beat victim); State v. Mings, 289 N.W.2d 497, 498 (Minn. 1980) (boot is dangerous weapon when used to kick victim repeatedly in head and chest). But the object found in appellant’s locker was not an ordinary object such as a piece of wood or a boot. Rather, it was an object bearing a striking resemblance to a large, sharp knife. Therefore, we conclude that because the metal object is not an ordinary object, it may be characterized as a dangerous weapon even though appellant never used it.
Appellant also argues that even if the metal object is a knife, not all knives are dangerous weapons. Appellant cites State v. Patton to support this proposition. State v. Patton, 414 N.W.2d 572, 574 (Minn. App. 1987). The court in Patton, however, did not expressly decline to resolve the issue of whether or not knives are dangerous weapons, per se, as appellant contends. Id. Instead, the court simply decided that it was unnecessary to address the contention that a buck knife is not designed as a dangerous weapon because the defendant could be convicted on other grounds. Id. (deciding that because the defendant actually “brandished the knife in such a manner that the jury could have found it was used as a dangerous weapon,” it need not also determine whether a buck knife was designed as a weapon). Moreover, a “statute is to be construed in a manner giving effect to all of its provisions and a construction that would give no effect to the statute is to be avoided.” State v. Wagner, 555 N.W.2d 752, 754 (Minn. App. 1996) (citation omitted). Section 609.66, subdivision 1d(d), of the possession of a dangerous weapon on school property statute states that the provision making it a felony to possess a dangerous weapon on school property does not apply to “a knife or gun show held on school property.” Minn. Stat. § 609.66, subd. 1d(d)(6) (1998). The only reason for the legislature to provide an exclusion for such shows is that the objects present at those shows--knives and guns--are of a type that are normally prohibited from school property. Since the “legislature intends the entire statute to be effective and certain,” Minn. Stat. § 645.17 (1998), knives, whether professionally manufactured or homemade, are considered dangerous weapons.
Finally, the “mischief to be remedied” and the “object to be attained” by section 609.66, subdivision 1d, should be analyzed to interpret what the legislature meant by a “dangerous weapon.” See Minn. Stat. § 645.16(3), (4) (1998). Section 609.66, subdivision 1d,
was introduced in the legislature in February 1993 in three separate bills, none including a reference to knowledge or intent. Legislative discussion before the House Subcomittee on Criminal Justice and Family Law suggests * * * that the bill was intended to address inconsistencies in the law by making it a felony for a student to possess a pistol on school grounds as well as to possess other weapons, such as switch blades. An important objective of the bill was thus to make the possession of weapons other than guns in school zones a felony.
In re Welfare of C.R.M., 611 N.W.2d 802, 805 (Minn. 2000) (considering whether the legislature included “the terms ‘possesses, stores, or keeps’ to require the state to prove that the defendant knew that he possessed, stored, or kept a weapon”) (footnotes omitted). Minnesota Representative Charles Weaver has testified that “three million crimes occur on school campuses every year, 160,000 children skip school every year for fear of being hurt, and weapons are appearing more frequently in Minnesota schools.” Id. at 805 n.8 (citation omitted). Because the object in appellant’s locker could have seriously harmed another student, it is of the same type of objects that the legislature wanted to keep out of schools in order to make them safer places. Therefore, characterizing the metal object found in appellant’s locker as a dangerous weapon effectuates the legislative intent of section 609.66, subdivision 1d.