Rogers v. Commonwealth

In Rogers v. Commonwealth, 14 Va. App. 774, 418 S.E.2d 727 (1992), the Court had occasion to consider whether a weapon, which had no firing pin when discovered and, thus, "could not be fired as found," was nonetheless a "sawed off shotgun" as that term is defined in the "Sawed-Off" Shotgun Act (Code 18.2-299--18.2-307). The appellant in Rogers asserted that his conviction for possession of a sawed-off shotgun should be reversed because the absence of a firing pin made the weapon inoperable. In holding that "the absence of a firing pin in such a weapon does not exempt it from prohibition under the Act," the Court recognized that the weapon would have become completely operable "after a moment's delay to insert a firing pin." The Court stated that holding otherwise "'would permit criminals to carry weapons in the first stage of disassembly, ready to be reassembled on a moment's notice.' Alternatively, a criminal carrying such a weapon would be allowed to rendezvous with a confederate carrying the firing pin, thereby avoiding the application of the Act." In Rogers, the evidence established that the weapon had no firing pin when discovered, and therefore could not be fired as found. Additionally, no firing pin was recovered from appellant. However, the weapon could be made to fire by inserting a small nail or pin. No specific expertise would be required to insert such a pin. 14 Va. App. at 776, 418 S.E.2d at 728