NRS § 202.287 prohibits wantonly or maliciously shooting a gun from inside a vehicle or structure in Nevada such as a house, office building, or even a tent. The only exceptions are if you are
- acting in self-defense
- are a licensed hunter or an on-duty police officer, or
- are otherwise acting within the lawful course of your business.
If the location of the car or building is within a statutorily recognized populated area, firing a gun is a category B felony carrying:
- 1 to 10 years in Nevada State Prison and/or up to $5,000, and
- deprival of gun rights (which can only be restored with a pardon)
Otherwise, discharging a gun is only a misdemeanor carrying:
- up to 6 months in jail and/or
- up to $1,000
On this page our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss the Nevada crime of shooting guns from cars or buildings. For more information, scroll down.
- 1. What does NRS 202.287 do?
- 2. How do I fight the charges?
- 3. What are the penalties for firing a gun from a vehicle or structure in Nevada?
Note that firing a gun at or into a car or building is an entirely separate crime in Nevada. Learn more about shooting a firearm at a vehicle or structure (NRS 202.285).
1. What does NRS 202.287 do?
Under NRS 202.287, it is crime in Nevada to “maliciously or wantonly” fire a gun – or cause a gun to be fired – from inside a structure or vehicle.
It does not matter whether the bullet stays within the structure or vehicle or is shot out of the structure or vehicle. Nor does it matter whether you are on top of, underneath, or inside the structure or vehicle.
The definitions of “structure” and “vehicle” under NRS 202.287 are extremely broad. “Structure” includes any kind of temporary or permanent structure such as the following:
- apartments or tenements
- shops, stores, or warehouses
- mills, barns, or stables
- any other building
Meanwhile, “vehicle” means any motor vehicle – or trailer designed for use with a motor vehicle – whether or not it is self-propelled, operated on rails or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead wires. In short, any
- trolley, or
If you are charged with maliciously or wantonly discharging a firearm, you will likely face additional related charges.
Example: Bob drives to the street of a rival gang and shoots a gun into the air. Here, Bob would probably be charged not only with violating NRS 202.287 for shooting a gun from inside his car but also for reckless endangerment for shooting the gun into the air. Furthermore, Bob’s prison sentence will be increased because his actions were in furtherance of a gang. Plus if Bob carried the gun in a hidden manner without a valid CCW permit, he could be charged with carrying a concealed weapon as well.
2. How do I fight the charges?
The most effective defenses to Nevada firearm discharge charges depend on the circumstances of the individual case. Common defense strategies include the following:
- No maliciousness or wantonness: NRS 202.287 applies only if you shot the gun wantonly or willfully. If you acted only negligently or accidentally, then you are not guilty of this offense.
Example: Ted is cleaning his guns at home when he has a seizure, causing his finger to pull the trigger. Neighbors report the gunshots, and Ted gets booked for wantonly shooting a gun from his home. Though if Ted’s attorney can show that the shooting was only an accident due to the seizure, the criminal charges should not stand.
- Self-defense: Shooting a gun from any location is not a crime as long as you were acting in accordance with Nevada self-defense laws. If your defense attorney can show that you were in reasonable fear of being killed or severely injured, then the D.A. should drop the gun charges.
- Hunting: If you are hunting, you may fire guns from cars or structures as long as you are abiding by NRS 503.010(2).
- Peace officers: If you are a law enforcement officer, you may shoot weapons from any location while you are engaged in the performance of your official duties.
- Legal exceptions: Firing guns from a car or building is not a crime if done legally in the course of a lawful business, event or activity. An example may be at a licensed shooting range.
3. What are the penalties for firing a gun from a vehicle or structure in Nevada?
Shooting a gun from a structure or vehicle that is not within a legally recognized populated area is only a misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence includes a maximum of:
- 6 months in jail, and/or
- $1,000 in fines
If the structure or vehicle is within a populated area, then violating NRS 202.287 is a category B felony in Nevada. The sentence includes:
- 1 to 10 years in prison, and/or
- up to $5,000 in fines
In addition, a felony conviction of shooting a gun from a car or building divests you of the right to own, possess, or have custody or control over a firearm.2 The only way you can regain your gun rights is through a Nevada pardon.
- NRS 202.287 – Discharging firearm within or from structure or vehicle; penalties.
1. A person who is in, on or under a structure or vehicle and who maliciously or wantonly discharges or maliciously or wantonly causes to be discharged a firearm within or from the structure or vehicle:
(a) If the structure or vehicle is not within an area designated by city or county ordinance as a populated area for the purpose of prohibiting the discharge of weapons, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(b) If the structure or vehicle is within an area designated by city or county ordinance as a populated area for the purpose of prohibiting the discharge of weapons, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 years and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.
2. If a firearm is discharged within or out of any vehicle that is in motion or at rest and it cannot with reasonable certainty be ascertained in what county the crime was committed, the offender may be arrested and tried in any county through which the vehicle may have run on the trip during which the firearm was discharged.
3. The provisions of this section do not apply to:
(a) A person who lawfully shoots at a game mammal or game bird pursuant to subsection 2 of NRS 503.010.
(b) A peace officer while engaged in the performance of his or her official duties.
(c) A person who discharges a firearm in a lawful manner and in the course of a lawful business, event or activity.
4. As used in this section:
(a) “Structure” means any temporary or permanent structure, including, but not limited to, any tent, house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building.
(b) “Vehicle” means any motor vehicle or trailer designed for use with a motor vehicle, whether or not it is self-propelled, operated on rails or propelled by electric power obtained from overhead wires.
- NRS 202.360 – Ownership or possession of firearm by certain persons prohibited; penalties.