A big problem people run into in New Jersey is when they bring air guns out in public or commit a crime using or while possessing a BB gun. Most people think that BB guns are toys so it is not a crime to carry them or that it is less serious to use them during a robbery but this could not be further from the truth. In fact, New Jersey considers BB guns and air guns real firearms under the statute 2C:39-5. This law has created inherent problems for New Jersey residents and visitors to our state because BB guns such as Airsoft guns have become very popular with teenagers and young adults who only have to be 18 years old to buy them. Moreover, you will normally not be required to exhibit a firearms identification “FID” card if purchased out-of-state or through a flee market. This is why a large portion of the gun cases we handle actually involve air guns and BB pistols. Common charges involving BB and pellet guns are typically possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, unlawful possession of a weapon, and robbery. Proetta & Oliver represents clients throughout New Jersey including Jersey City, Bayonne, Newark, Secaucus, Kearny, Union City, Montclair and North Bergen. Founding attorney, Will Proetta has successfully defended clients against thousands of crimes and charges including weapons cases for BB and pellet guns. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you against your charges, contact our office today at (201) 793-8108 for a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
New Jersey BB Gun Laws
BB Gun Pistol – Under 2C:39-5(b) a pellet pistol is considered a real firearm and therefore New Jersey handgun laws are also applicable to B-B gun pistols. Because a spring or elastic action pistol can shot projectiles which cause injury, in accordance with 2C:58-4, you need a permit to possess, carry or transport them just like a regular pistol. However, unlike unlawful possession of a real pistol which is second degree, if you are caught with an air pistol without the proper permits you are guilty of a third degree felony for unlawful possession of a weapon and recent amendments to the firearm law clarify it should not be considered a Graves Act offense. However, the charge still carries serious penalties such as 3 – 5 years of state prison exposure.
Pellet Rifles – A BB rifle is also considered a “firearm” but it does not fall under the definition of a “rifle” in accordance with 2C:39-1(f) because pellet gun rifles do not have a rifled bore. Arguably, this could mean that you do not need a FID card to buy or possess an air rifle because N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.3, states that you only need a FID card to purchase and possess a shotgun, rifle, and handgun – not “firearms” in general. But according to the State Police website, you still need a firearms purchaser ID card to buy, own or possess an air gun rifle. Nonetheless, possession of an air or pellet rifle for unlawful purposes or under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use are serious felonies.
- Possession of a BB rifle for unlawful purposes is a third degree felony under 2C:39-4
- Possession of a BB rifle under circumstances not manifestly appropriate is a third degree felony. (Example – a pellet gun hidden under the driver’s seat of a car would give rise to this inference)
- It should also be noted that mere possession of a BB gun on school grounds is a third degree crime under 2C:39-5(e) because they are considered “firearms”.
Paintball Gun – A paintball gun is not considered a “firearm” under New Jersey law, but it is still considered a “weapon” because it is capable of serious bodily injury under statute 2C:39-1. Therefore, just like most other weapons crimes you will be charged with a fourth degree crime if you are found to be in possession of a paintball gun under circumstances that are not manifestly appropriate for a lawful use. The charge will be upgraded to a more serious third degree felony if you use or intend to use the paintball gun to hurt another person or their property.
New Jersey Air Gun Defense Lawyer
Guns crimes and crimes involving firearms are extremely serious and often complicated. For instance gun charges fall under the Graves Act which requires mandatory periods of incarceration without parole. Moreover for violent crimes where a firearm may have been used such as robbery or burglary the No Early Release Act applies and requires a defendant serve 85% of this sentence without being eligible for parole. Complications involving BB guns often arise because Federal law 15 U.S.C. 5001 prohibits New Jersey from banning the sale of pellet guns but it does not prevent New Jersey from classifying BB guns as actual firearms and their applicable regulations such as licensing and possession by persons with a criminal record. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can frequently mitigate your potential exposure by downgrading your charges or getting them dismissed altogether. For instance, we are often successful at working with the prosecutor’s office to waive the Graves Act to avoid mandatory incarceration and, depending on the circumstances, even securing our client’s admittance into the Pre-Trial Intervention program to ensure no permanent record upon completion. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with your charges, contact us at (201) 793-8018 for a free initial consultation over the phone with an experienced BB gun defense attorney or to schedule an appointment.
Related New Jersey BB Gun Information