In the state of Nevada, it is illegal to discharge an air gun or other weapon in a public place or in any place where a person might be endangered by the firing of the weapon. A person does not have to be injured for the act to be illegal. An air gun does not fall under the state’s definition of a firearm.
Nevada state law defines a firearm as any device to be used as a weapon from which a projectile may be expelled through the barrel by force of an explosion or other form of combustion. An air gun propels a projectile, such as a ball bearing, through forced air.
Classification of Nonlethal Weapons
Air guns, also called air rifles, air soft guns or pellet guns, may look like firearms but shoot nonlethal plastic pellets. Paintball guns, also called paint guns or markers, are air guns that shoot dye-filled gel capsules called paint balls. BB guns use compressed air to fire nonlethal metallic pellets.
It is legal to own an air gun, paintball gun or BB gun in Nevada. These weapons do not fit the definition of firearms, and there is no state statute that determines the age of purchase for these weapons.
Air guns, paintball guns and BB guns do not require a gun permit or license. There is no state law or federal law that criminalizes removing the orange tip from an airsoft gun. A handgun is defined as a gun that can be used with one hand, such as a pistol or revolver. A handgun is a lethal weapon.
Effects of Local Laws
Cities and counties typically have local ordinances that address the possession and use of nonlethal weapons. For example, the city of North Las Vegas provides that it is unlawful for any person to use an air rifle or pellet gun within 500 feet of any inhabited dwelling in the city.
Carson City Air Rifle Regulations
Carson City mandates that it is unlawful for any person to fire or discharge any air rifle or BB gun within 1,000 feet of any dwelling, building or other place of “public resort” within the city. Carson City further provides that it is unlawful to fire or discharge an air rifle or BB gun:
- In, on or across any public road or highway.
- Within 5,000 feet of the Carson River between Deer Run Road Bridge and the McTarnahan Bridge site.
- Within 5,000 feet of the Carson River in the area between the McTarnahan Bridge site and the Douglas County line.
Washoe County Firearms Laws
Washoe County also disallows the discharge of firearms in congested areas. It is prohibited to shoot an air rifle or BB gun within 1,000 feet of an occupied dwelling, but is not prohibited to shoot an air rifle or BB gun within 5,000 feet of an occupied dwelling. If shooters follow those parameters, they are usually allowed to shoot in any area not designated as a “no shooting” or “congested area.”
A “congested area” is a geographic location where the discharge of any firearm is prohibited. A “restricted congested area” is a location where residents must be a minimum 1,000 feet from any occupied dwelling to shoot an air rifle or BB gun. In restricted congested areas, residents are allowed to discharge air rifles and BB guns.
Concealed Weapon Permits
An individual does not need a concealed carry firearm permit to carry and use an air gun in Nevada. Cities may issue concealed carry firearm permits. For example, Las Vegas issues concealed carry permits to individuals 21 and up, unless they are 18 or above and on active duty military.
There is an application fee of $100.25 for a concealed carry firearm permit, which is valid for five years from the date of issuance. When a person is carrying a concealed firearm, they must have their CCW permit and state identification or driver’s license.
Nonlethal Weapons and Hunting
A person in Nevada can hunt with a lethal or a nonlethal weapon. The regulations of the Nevada Department of Wildlife do not outlaw the use of nonlethal weapons to hunt. Any person 12 years or older who hunts game birds or mammals in Nevada must have a hunting license.
There are fees for hunting licenses. A person 14 years or older with a valid hunting license who has parental permission can hunt alone. If a person under 18 is applying for a hunting license, the youth’s parent or legal guardian must sign the application for the minor’s hunting license.
Penalties for Gun Law Citations
A violation of Nevada Revised Statute Section 202.290, the prohibition against discharging an air gun or other weapon in a public place, is considered a gross misdemeanor. The penalty for a gross misdemeanor is up to 364 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000. Each incident of discharge can be considered and charged as a separate act.
A discharge of an air gun may involve an unlawful attempt to use physical force against another person or an intentional act to place another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm. Such an act would be charged as assault. The penalty for assault is up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
Discharge of Air Gun Causing Injury
A discharge of an air gun that injured another person would be charged as battery. The penalty for battery depends on the severity of the injury sustained and whether the offender has committed battery before. Battery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the offender’s criminal history.
If the court does not order restitution, defined as monetary compensation to the victim, in the criminal case, the injured parties can sue the defendant in civil court.
Offenses Involving Domestic Violence
Whether an act involving a threat or act of violence qualifies as domestic violence depends on the relationship between the shooter and the person who was threatened or injured. In Nevada, domestic violence is defined as a violent crime committed by one romantic partner, member of a family or member of a household upon another.
Domestic violence can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the act and the offender’s criminal history. A person who has been threatened or injured with an air gun or BB gun in a domestic violence incident can also request a protection order. They should name themselves, any minor children and animals that they own as entities to be protected.
- Nevada Revised Statutes: Chapter 202 Crimes Against Public Health and Safety
- City of North Las Vegas, Local Ordinances: Chapter 9.32 Weapons Generally
- Nevada Department of Wildlife: Rules and Regulations
- Carson City, Local Ordinances: 8.12.010 Discharge of Firearms Unlawful
- Nevada Revised Statutes: Chapter 193, Criminality Generally
- Nevada Revised Statutes: Chapter 200 Crimes Against the Person
- Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department: Concealed Firearm Permits
- Washoe County Sheriff's Office: Congested Area Ordinances
- Supreme Court of Nevada: Protection Orders Overview
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.