STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed November 16, 1999
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K0-98-4418
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Mark Nathan Lystig, Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, 50 Kellogg Boulevard West, Suite, 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for appellant)
Ira A. Whitlock, Whitlock Law Office, 906 Minnesota Bldg, 46 E. 4th Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.
Alleging the district court misread the gun-control statutes, the state appeals a dismissal of charges against defendant Charles Jarrett for possession of a firearm by an ineligible person. We reverse.
Under Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 1(b) (1998), a person convicted of a "crime of violence" is not entitled to possess a pistol, a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon, or "any other firearm" for the statutory period. "Crime of violence" includes felony-level controlled-substance offenses. Minn. Stat. § 624.712, subd. 5 (1998). We reject respondent's challenge to the classification of a controlled-substance offense as a "crime of violence." See State v. Soto, 378 N.W.2d 625, 627 (Minn. 1985) (stating it is "exclusive province" of legislature to define criminal offenses).
"Firearm" is not defined for purposes of Minn. Stat. § 624.713 (1998). See Minn. Stat. § 624.712 (1998) (defining terms for purposes of Minn. Stat. §§ 624.711-.717 but not defining "firearm"). It is self evident, however, that shotguns and rifles are firearms. See State v. Seifert, 256 N.W.2d 87, 88 (Minn. 1977) (stating "firearm," as used in Minn. Stat. § 609.02 (1974)'s definition of "dangerous weapon," should be read "broadly to include guns using newer types of projectile propellants"); Black's Law Dictionary 634 (6th ed. 1990) (defining "firearm," in part, as "[a]n instrument used in the propulsion of shot, shell, or bullets by the action of gunpowder exploded within it"); see generally Bol v. Cole, 561 N.W.2d 143, 146 (Minn. 1997) (noting interpretation of a statute is a legal matter on which appellate courts need not defer to district court).
The provision articulating the policy for the gun-control statutes states that it is not the legislature's intent to regulate "shotguns, rifles and other longguns of the type commonly used for hunting." Minn. Stat. § 624.711 (1998). Because shotguns and rifles are "firearms," this general policy conflicts with Minn. Stat. § 624.713's statement that certain persons are prohibited from possessing firearms. Under the "rule of lenity," ambiguities in criminal statutes are generally interpreted in favor of the defendant. State v. Orsello, 554 N.W.2d 70, 76 (Minn. 1996). The reason for the rule of lenity is "to ensure fair public notice of what action is prohibited by the criminal statutes." Id. While the gun-control statute requires that ineligible persons be notified they are prohibited from possessing pistols and semiautomatic military-style assault weapons, that statute also states that a failure to provide notice "does not affect" the applicability of the prohibition "or the felony penalty" for violating the prohibition. Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 3(a) (1998). Thus, in the gun-control statute, the legislature disavowed the purpose behind the rule of lenity, and we cannot say it must be applied here.
Also, the possession prohibition, which previously applied to pistols and semiautomatic military-style assault weapons, was amended to include "any other firearm" after the legislature enacted the general policy statement indicating it did not intend to regulate shotguns, rifles, or other longguns. Therefore, the "any other firearm" portion of the prohibition provision is to be given precedence over the policy statement. See Minn. Stat. § 645.26, subds. 1, 4 (1998) (stating that if general provision conflicts with specific provision, specific provision "shall" be deemed an exception to the general provision and that where conflict exists between laws passed at different legislative sessions, the later-enacted provision "shall" prevail); see also Minn. Stat. § 645.44, subd. 16 (1998) ("`[s]hall' is mandatory").
Respondent was not notified that he was ineligible to possess a shotgun or rifle. But the statute only requires notice of ineligibility to possess a pistol or a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon, not notice of ineligibility to possess a shotgun or rifle. Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subd. 3(a). This court has declined to read such an expanded notice requirement into the statute. State v. Taylor 590 N.W.2d 155, 158 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. May 18, 1999); see Martinco v. Hastings, 265 Minn. 490, 495, 497, 122 N.W.2d 631, 637, 638 (1963) (stating "when a statute speaks with clarity in limiting its application to specifically enumerated subjects, its application shall not be extended to other subjects by process of construction" and "[i]f there is to be a change in the statute, it must come from the legislature, for the courts cannot supply that which the legislature purposefully omits or inadvertently overlooks" (citations omitted)).
Our reversal here is consistent with our ruling in Dendy where we reversed a dismissal of a possession-of-a-firearm charge against a drug offender, holding that a convicted drug offender is ineligible to possess a shotgun used for hunting and is not entitled to notice of his ineligibility to possess such a weapon. 598 N.W.2d at 7. We decline to readdress that holding. We note, however, that Dendy was issued after the district court made its decision in this case.
 To the extent defendant alleges he was deprived of due process of law, his failure to develop his argument on that point waives the argument. See State v. Butcher, 563 N.W.2d 776, 780 (Minn. App. 1997) (refusing to address argument raised but not developed in brief), review denied (Minn. Aug. 5, 1997); cf. State v. Sorenson, 441 N.W.2d 455, 457 (Minn. 1989) (declining to address issue under state constitution because it was "neither adequately briefed nor litigated").