A flare gun is indeed a potentially deadly firearm, a state appeals court panel ruled Monday in a case involving a felon charged with stealing electronics and other items from a Kohl’s store in Bloomington last summer.
The finding reverses a decision by the Hennepin County District Court to dismiss the most serious charge against 36-year-old Andrew V. Glover, of St. Paul — that he was a felon in possession of a firearm — and revives that count for continued prosecution along with burglary and theft allegations.
District Judge Jeannice Reding had concluded that Glover’s loaded flare gun was not a firearm because it was not meant to be used as a weapon, while prosecutors argued otherwise because it uses gunpowder to propel a projectile.
However, the appeals court cited in its reversal, “the District Court erred by concluding that the flare launcher respondent possessed is not a firearm under Minnesota law because it was not ‘designed to injure or kill.’ ”
After all, the ruling continued, “neither kitchen knives nor scissors are designed to be weapons, [but] case law supports that sharp items such as knives and scissors can be considered dangerous weapons.”
Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the County Attorney’s Office, said the appeals court victory for prosecutors means “we will definitely refile and pursue the [dismissed count] against Mr. Glover. We clearly felt the weapon met the statutory definition of firearm, and that is why we appealed the case.”
Defense attorney Brenna Rahmlow said Tuesday, “Our plan is to take this to the state Supreme Court.” She said it could be months before the high court hears the case, should it agree to accept it.
According to court records:
On July 9, a Kohl’s employee told police that two suspects, later identified as Andrew Glover and his 25-year-old cousin, Derick D. Glover, entered the department store and walked into a stock room marked “Employees Only.” They then pried open a locker containing expensive electronics.
A video game console, camera and printer were taken, but police nabbed the pair before they could leave the store. That’s when officers discovered a loaded flare launcher in Andrew Glover’s right pants pocket. The gun had a warning label indicating that it launches burning flares at high velocity, to never point at anyone and not to store or carry it loaded.
Andrew Glover’s criminal history in Minnesota includes several felony convictions, including for domestic assault, which prompted the charge of being prohibited from possessing a firearm.
During a District Court hearing that addressed the validity of the charge, a sheriff’s deputy and weapons expert defined a firearm as “an assembly of a barrel and the action from which a projectile is propelled by means of combustion.”
He went on to explain that Andrew Glover’s flare launcher met the definition because “a pistol and a flare launcher ... are both hand-held devices that propel a projectile by means of combustion.”
Judge Reding later dismissed the firearms charge after concluding — and setting the stage for the successful appeal — that a flare launcher is not designed to be used as a weapon.
The appeals panel reversal was unanimous and made by judges John Rodenberg, Tracy Smith and Roger Klaphake.
Co-defendant Derick Glover’s case is unaffected by the ruling, and a warrant has been issued for the Mankato man’s arrest.