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When are BB guns illegal in Nevada?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Feb 07, 2019 | 0 Comments

Although BB guns operate differently from firearms, they are considered "deadly weapons." Therefore, Nevada state law still forbids their use or possession in many of the same circumstances.

1. Nevada state BB gun laws

(Note that Nevada counties and cities have their own specific laws regulating the use of guns, including BB guns. So be sure to check local county and municipal codes as well.)

1.1. On school property (NRS 202.265)

Nevada law forbids people from carrying or possessing pneumatic guns (which includes many BB guns) while on the property of either:

Regarding child care facilities located in a home, this prohibition only applies during operating hours. And the owner of the home may still possess a gun as long as he/she is otherwise following Nevada and federal gun laws.

Having a pneumatic gun on school property is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

1.2. Aiming at a person (NRS 202.290)

Nevada law forbids aiming "any gun" at a person. Presumably, "any gun" includes BB guns.

It makes no difference whether or not the gun is loaded. Nor does it matter if the person being aimed at is unaware he/she is being aimed at.

Aiming any gun at a person is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

1.3. Endangering a person (NRS 202.290)

Nevada law forbids discharging any "air gun" in any place where a person might be endangered. BB guns are a type of "air gun."

It makes no difference if the location is public or private. Nor does it matter if anyone is ultimately injured.

Endangering a person by discharging an air gun is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • up to 364 days in jail, and/or
  • up to $2,000 in fines

1.4. Concealed carry (NRS 202.350)

Nevada law forbids carrying concealed pneumatic guns (which includes many BB guns) without a current and valid CCW permit. Carrying a concealed pneumatic gun without a current and valid CCW permit is a category C felony. The penalty is:

Merely forgetting to carry a CCW permit is only a civil infraction, carrying a $25 fine. Learn more about Nevada concealed carry laws.

1.5. Drawing a deadly weapon a rude, angry, or threatening manner (NRS 202.320)

Nevada law appears to categorize BB guns as a "dangerous or deadly weapon." Therefore, it is a misdemeanor for people to draw or exhibit a BB gun in a rude, angry, or threatening manner in the presence of two (2) or more people. The punishment includes:

  • up to six (6) months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines

Certainly, drawing a deadly weapon is no crime if it is done in lawful self-defense. Learn more about Nevada brandishing laws.

1.6. Enhanced penalty for using a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime (NRS 193.165)

Nevada law appears to categorize BB guns as a "dangerous or deadly" weapon. Therefore, people who use BB guns while committing a crime -- such as robbery or burglary -- face an enhanced penalty of one to twenty (1 - 20) years. However, this enhancement may be no longer than the sentence for the underlying crime.

When determining the length of this sentence enhancement, the court considers the following factors:

  1. the facts and circumstances of the crime;
  2. the criminal history of the person;
  3. the impact of the crime on any victim;
  4. any mitigating factors presented by the person; and
  5. any other relevant information.

Learn more about Nevada sentencing enhancements for using a gun in the commission of a crime.

2. BB guns versus firearms in Nevada

Whereas firearms (powder guns) rely on combustion or explosions to fire bullets, BB guns shoot ball bearings through either:

  • a spring piston
  • pre-compressed gas (no pumping is necessary)
  • pneumatic pumps (where the person manually pumps the gun to compress the air)

BB guns are therefore a kind of "air gun" designed to shoot "BBs", which are metallic ball-shaped projectiles about 4.3mm in size. BBs are usually available in lead, zinc, or copper. Note that BB guns are not pellet guns, which are meant to shoot projectiles that are not ball-shaped. Nor are BB guns airsoft guns, which are meant to shoot balls that are larger than BBs and made out of plastic.


Legal References:

Simpson v. State, 2010 Nev. Unpub. LEXIS 44, 2-3 (2010) ("Notably, a BB gun qualifies as a deadly weapon.")


NRS 202.290  Aiming firearm at human being; discharging weapon where person might be endangered; penalty.  Unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 202.287, a person who willfully:

      1.  Aims any gun, pistol, revolver or other firearm, whether loaded or not, at or toward any human being; or

      2.  Discharges any firearm, air gun or other weapon, or throws any deadly missile in a public place or in any place where any person might be endangered thereby, although an injury does not result,

--> is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

NRS 202.265  Possession of dangerous weapon on property or in vehicle of school or child care facility; penalty; exceptions.

      1.  Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not carry or possess while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or child care facility, or while in a vehicle of a private or public school or child care facility:

      ...
      (e) A pneumatic gun;

      (f) A pistol, revolver or other firearm; or

      ...
      2.  Any person who violates subsection 1 is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

      ...

      (b) A child care facility which is located at or in the home of a natural person by the person who owns or operates the facility so long as the person resides in the home and the person complies with any laws governing the possession of such a weapon.

      4.  The provisions of this section apply to a child care facility located at or in the home of a natural person only during the normal hours of business of the facility.

      5.  For the purposes of this section:

      (a) “Child care facility” means any child care facility that is licensed pursuant to chapter 432A of NRS or licensed by a city or county.

      ...

      (c) “Pneumatic gun” means any implement designed as a gun that may expel a ball bearing or a pellet by action of pneumatic pressure. The term includes, without limitation, a paintball gun that expels plastic balls filled with paint for the purpose of marking the point of impact.

      ...

NRS 202.350  Manufacture, importation, possession or use of dangerous weapon or silencer; carrying concealed weapon without permit; penalties; issuance of permit to carry concealed weapon; exceptions.

      1.  Except as otherwise provided in this section and NRS 202.3653 to 202.369, inclusive, a person within this State shall not:

      ...

      (d) Carry concealed upon his or her person any:

             (1) Explosive substance, other than ammunition or any components thereof;

             (2) Machete; or

             (3) Pistol, revolver or other firearm, other dangerous or deadly weapon or pneumatic gun.

      2.  Except as otherwise provided in NRS 202.275 and 212.185, a person who violates any of the provisions of:

      ...

      (b) Paragraph (b) of subsection 1 or subparagraph (1) or (3) of paragraph (d) of subsection 1 is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

     ...
      8.  As used in this section:

      (a) “Concealed weapon” means a weapon described in this section that is carried upon a person in such a manner as not to be discernible by ordinary observation.

      ...
      (e) “Pneumatic gun” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 202.265.

      ...

NRS 202.320  Drawing deadly weapon in threatening manner.

      1.  Unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 202.287, a person having, carrying or procuring from another person any dirk, dirk-knife, sword, sword cane, pistol, gun or other deadly weapon, who, in the presence of two or more persons, draws or exhibits any of such deadly weapons in a rude, angry or threatening manner not in necessary self-defense, or who in any manner unlawfully uses that weapon in any fight or quarrel, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

      2.  A sheriff, deputy sheriff, marshal, constable or other peace officer shall not be held to answer, under the provisions of subsection 1, for drawing or exhibiting any of the weapons mentioned therein while in the lawful discharge of his or her duties.

NRS 193.165  Additional penalty: Use of deadly weapon or tear gas in commission of crime; restriction on probation.

      1.  Except as otherwise provided in NRS 193.169, any person who uses a firearm or other deadly weapon or a weapon containing or capable of emitting tear gas, whether or not its possession is permitted by NRS 202.375, in the commission of a crime shall, in addition to the term of imprisonment prescribed by statute for the crime, be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 20 years. In determining the length of the additional penalty imposed, the court shall consider the following information:

      (a) The facts and circumstances of the crime;

      (b) The criminal history of the person;

      (c) The impact of the crime on any victim;

      (d) Any mitigating factors presented by the person; and

      (e) Any other relevant information.

--> The court shall state on the record that it has considered the information described in paragraphs (a) to (e), inclusive, in determining the length of the additional penalty imposed.

      2.  The sentence prescribed by this section:

      (a) Must not exceed the sentence imposed for the crime; and

      (b) Runs consecutively with the sentence prescribed by statute for the crime.

      3.  This section does not create any separate offense but provides an additional penalty for the primary offense, whose imposition is contingent upon the finding of the prescribed fact.

      4.  The provisions of subsections 1, 2 and 3 do not apply where the use of a firearm, other deadly weapon or tear gas is a necessary element of such crime.

      5.  The court shall not grant probation to or suspend the sentence of any person who is convicted of using a firearm, other deadly weapon or tear gas in the commission of any of the following crimes:

      (a) Murder;

      (b) Kidnapping in the first degree;

      (c) Sexual assault; or

      (d) Robbery.

      6.  As used in this section, “deadly weapon” means:

      (a) Any instrument which, if used in the ordinary manner contemplated by its design and construction, will or is likely to cause substantial bodily harm or death;

      (b) Any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing substantial bodily harm or death; or

      (c) A dangerous or deadly weapon specifically described in NRS 202.255, 202.265, 202.290, 202.320 or 202.350.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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