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Name: People v. Arnold
Case #: C050141
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/20/2006

For the purposes of a conviction of Penal Code section 12021, subd. (a)(1) (convicted felon in possession of a firearm), possession of a frame or receiver is sufficient, although not necessary. Section 12001, subd. (b) defines “firearm” as any device, designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled through a barrel a projectile . . . . Subdivision (c) adds: the term firearm includes the frame or receiver. [Receiver is the metal frame in which the action of a firearm is fitted and to which the breech end of the barrel is attached. An action is an operating mechanism.] Under statutory construction, subdivision (c) enlarges rather than limits the definition of firearm in subdivision (b), such that for purposes of section 12021, possession of a frame or receiver is sufficient, regardless of whether a device with a barrel is also possessed. This interpretation meets with the Supreme Court’s finding of a legislative intent to prohibit possession by an ex-felon of a firearm that is designed to be used as a weapon although is incapable of being fired. (People v. Nelums (1982) 31Cal.3d 355.) In this jury trial, the officer testified that he found a “firearm” which had the front stock support arm and the rear stock missing. Appellant claimed that there was insufficient evidence that he possessed the firing mechanism or action portion of the receiver, but this is not necessary under this holding.