Can You Legally Shoot a BB Gun in NJ?

Can I shoot a BB gun in NJ
Can I Shoot a BB Gun in NJ

Wondering if you are allowed to fire a BB gun in NJ? BB guns are legal in this state but, like many areas of the law, their legality is determined by the surrounding circumstances. As such, the answer to many questions surrounding BB guns is not a simple “yes” or “no” response but rather, it depends on the situation. To begin, BB guns are not viewed as toys under New Jersey law. In fact, under the NJ Criminal Code, they are considered firearms. Therefore, when determining whether your conduct is legal and what the potential consequences may be for shooting BB guns, we need to examine New Jersey’s firearm laws.

Typically, with respect to firearm offenses, people are criminally charged for two major reasons. They either possessed or carried the gun illegally or they utilized the firearm in an illegal manner. Accordingly, if you wish to use BB gun legally, the first step is to make sure you are handling the gun in the right place. A BB gun can only be possessed in the owner’s home, place of business, hunting site, or a target range. Furthermore, they can carry the BB gun to and from their residence, place of work, and to a hunting site or target range, if they transport the gun in the manner prescribed by law. Similarly, if a child or young adult takes a BB gun to a school, park, or a friend’s house, it is against the law. 

Assuming you are located in a proper place to use the BB gun, the next potential hurdle you need to clear is using the gun lawfully. Similar to a real firearm, there are instances where it is lawful to fire a gun and there are other situations where it is illegal. First, if you are inside your home, on your own property, or at your place of work, you may fire your BB gun. Similarly, if you are hunting or at a target range, you may discharge your gun. However, simply because you are situated properly, does not mean you can fire the gun in any which way you desire. The BB gun must be discharged for a lawful purpose. Our criminal code does not articulate how the gun may be fired and for what reasons. Rather, the law states, any person who has in his or her possession any firearm with a purpose to use it unlawfully against another person or property is guilty of a crime of the second degree. Therefore, as long as you are not using the BB gun for an unlawful purpose, you may fire it.

The question then becomes, what does it mean to use a gun for an illegal reason? Our code does not provide a definition for unlawful purpose and does not provide any concrete examples. As such, in order to determine whether the person was using their gun unlawfully, we need to examine the surrounding circumstances. For instance, if a juvenile was driving down the street and began firing the gun at pedestrians and shooting at the surrounding windows of homes and cars, such conduct would very likely be considered illegal. A BB gun can harm a person and has the capacity to break windows. Moreover, the overall conduct will likely cause public alarm. Thus, the conduct would surely be deemed illegal. However, if the juvenile was in his or her backyard, and was shooting at a can for target practice, and a pellet ricocheted and struck someone or broke a window, this is a very different scenario. Under those set of facts, it is very doubtful that the shooter would be prosecuted. The juvenile was not intending to hit any person or any property other than the can. Accordingly, every case is different and the circumstances surrounding the event are very crucial when trying to determine if the person’s conduct was legal.

Accused of Illegally Firing a BB Gun in NJ, Now What?

If you are someone you love is being charged with a gun-related offense, it is strongly advisable to seek legal counsel from an attorney who is very familiar with the laws on firearms in New Jersey. At The Tormey Law Firm, our lawyers have extensive experience in this area of the law and we can examine the facts of your individual case to determine the legality, or lack thereof, and what defenses may be available to you. To discuss your unique situation regarding the firing of a BB gun or related matters, please contact our office at (201)-614-2474 for immediate assistance. A consultation is free and available at your convenience.