NRS 202.290 is the Nevada firearm law that makes it a gross misdemeanor either to aim a gun towards a person, or to fire a gun in a public place. Penalties include up to $2,000 in fines and/or up to 364 days in jail. But if the gunman meant to scare anyone, prosecutors may bring harsher charges for assault with a deadly weapon.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What does NRS 202.290 do?
- 2. What are the penalties?
- 3. Will I lose my gun rights?
- 4. How can I fight the charges?
- 5. What are the immigration consequences?
- 6. How soon can I seal the criminal record?
1. What does NRS 202.290 do?
NRS 202.290 makes it a Nevada crime when a person willfully:
- Aims any gun, pistol, revolver or other firearm, whether loaded or not, at or toward any human being; or
- 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[.]
In short, NRS 202.290 prohibits intentionally aiming a gun at a person or firing one in a place where people may get hurt. Note that aiming a gun at a person is unlawful even if the gunman never intends to pull the trigger and if the person being aimed at is not scared.
Example: Mike and Ben are horsing around at a Las Vegas firearm store. As a joke Mike draws a rifle, points it at Ben, and says, “Bang, bang, you’re dead!” Ben laughs at the stunt, but the store owner calls Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, who book Mike at the Clark County Detention Center for aiming a rifle at Ben.
In the above example Mike technically broke Nevada law simply by pointing the rifle at Ben. The fact that the rifle was unloaded and uncocked does not reduce Mike’s criminal liability. Nor does Ben’s knowledge that Mike was just teasing him preclude a conviction.1
2. What are the penalties?
Intentionally aiming a firearm at a person or discharging one in public is a gross misdemeanor. Nevada penalties include:
- Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- Up to $2,000 in fines2
People who intentionally aim a firearm at a person in a way that places him/her in fear of immediate bodily harm instead face charges for assault with a deadly weapon (NRS 200.471(2)(b)). It is a category B felony, carrying 1 – 6 years in Nevada State Prison and/or up to $5,000 in fines.3
Note that maliciously or wantonly firing a gun from a car or building in a populated area is also prosecuted as a category B felony under NRS 202.297 – Discharging firearm from vehicle or structure. But the penalties include 1 to 10 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 in fines.4
3. Will I lose my gun rights?
A conviction of violating NRS 202.290 should not cause the defendant to lose his/her gun rights. Learn more about people prohibited from possessing firearms in Nevada (NRS 202.360).
4. How can I fight the charges?
Potential defenses to Nevada charges of aiming a gun at a human being include:
- The defendant acted in self-defense. Nevada law permits people to fight back with proportional force in defense of themselves and others. For instance, aiming a gun at a person is a lawful reaction to that person wielding a knife. As long as a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have aimed the gun in self-defense, criminal charges should not stand.
- The defendant never aimed the gun at a person. Perhaps the alleged victim falsely accused the defendant or mistakenly believed the gun was aimed his/her way. Unless the D.A. can prove the defendant aimed the gun on a person, then the NRS 202.290 charge should be dismissed.
- The defendant did not act willfully. Perhaps the defendant had a medical episode like a seizure. Or perhaps someone bumped into the defendant, resulting in the firearm to momentarily be pointed towards a person. But if the defense can show that the defendant’s actions were not deliberate, then the case should be dropped.
Lack of willfulness is also a defense if the case involves discharging a firearm or other weapon in public. Perhaps the weapon fired or detonated by accident. Or perhaps someone else caused the weapon to discharge. Unless the defendant intentionally set off the firearm or weapon, the charge should be dismissed.
5. What are the immigration consequences?
Any firearm conviction makes a non-citizen vulnerable to deportation. Therefore, immigrants charged with aiming a gun at a person or firing a gun in public should retain an attorney right away. Getting the charge reduced or dismissed may be the only way the defendant can stay in the U.S.5
6. How soon can I seal the criminal record?
People convicted of violating NRS 202.290 may petition to seal the record two (2) years after the case ends. But if the charge got dismissed, there is no wait to pursue a Nevada criminal record seal.6
- Nevada Revised Statute 202.290; see also Berry v. State, 212 P.3d 1085 (2009).
- NRS 200.471(2)(b); see also Holland v. State, 82 Nev. 191, 414 P.2d 590 (1966).
- NRS 202.297.
- 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(C).
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.