BB guns and similar airsoft guns are often considered nothing more than toys for kids. While it is true that some low-power BB guns are meant to be more like toys than weapons, not every BB gun is low-power. High-powered airsoft guns and similar devices are very dangerous and classified as firearms. This means that a BB gun is treated the same as a handgun or a shotgun in a legal sense.
BB guns are subject to all the restrictions imposed on firearms. You must have a valid permit to carry a BB gun, and purchasing one may entail numerous roadblocks and background checks. People can be criminally charged for violating serious gun laws if they carry a BB gun without a permit. Crimes involving BB guns are also handled according to laws surrounding guns and deadly weapons.
Many defendants run into trouble because they do not realize that a BB gun is deemed a dangerous firearm by the state. If you need help, call our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys. The team at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych is ready to discuss your case in a free case evaluation. Call us at (609) 616-4956.
Are BB Guns Considered Firearms in New Jersey?
BB guns are legally considered firearms in the State of New Jersey. According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-1(f), a firearm includes any type of gun or device capable of ejecting bullets, slugs, pellets, balls, missiles, or something similar. More traditional firearms include weapons, guns, or devices that fire projectiles by means of igniting a flammable substance. However, the law specifically includes spring guns, air guns, and similar weapons when defining firearms.
Because BB guns are considered firearms, the laws that regulate guns, gun ownership, and the sale or transfer of guns also apply to BB guns. This means if you wish to carry a BB gun anywhere, such as when hunting or for other sporting activities, you need a valid permit. Depending on what kind of activity you are doing with the BB gun, you may need other special licensing. For example, when hunting with a BB gun, you need to have a license to carry the gun and a valid hunting license or permit.
In addition, laws regarding the unlawful use of weapons, lawfully purchased or not, apply to BB guns. Certain crimes may be upgraded and penalties made harsher if a firearm or other deadly weapon is used. If you used a BB gun in the commission of a crime, you could face harsher penalties like those for crimes committed with handguns or other weapons. Call our New Jersey firearms defense attorneys for assistance if you are charged with a BB gun-related offense.
Penalties for Violating BB Gun Laws in New Jersey
BB guns, as with any firearms, require a valid permit to carry. A permit is necessary if you wish to take the BB gun anywhere other than your own home. For many BB guns owners, a permit to carry is necessary to take the gun to a shooting range or a hunting location. The law requiring a valid permit to carry a firearm is found under N.J.S.A. 2C:58-4.
A violation of the permit rule may lead to criminal charges. Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-5, the unlawful possession of weapons, including BB guns and other firearms, might be a criminal offense. More specifically, the unlawful possession of an airsoft gun, such as a BB gun, may be charged as a third-degree crime, similar to a felony charge in other states. For a third-degree crime, a defendant may be sentenced to at least 3 years in state prison and a maximum term of 5 years. Multiple charges for multiple BB guns could potentially add up to a very long time in prison.
Even if a BB gun is obtained lawfully and you have a valid permit, you can still be charged with possession with an unlawful purpose. This type of criminal charge would apply to cases where a lawfully obtained BB gun is used in the commission of a crime. According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:39-4, anyone who possesses a firearm, including a BB gun, with the intent to use the weapon against another person or property may be charged with a second-degree crime.
Similarly, someone who receives, transfers, or possesses a community gun, meaning a firearm that is shared among several people, may be charged with a second-degree crime. A second-degree crime is punishable by no less than 5 years in prison and no more than 10 years. Speak to our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys for help with your charges.
Defending Against Gun Searches and Criminal Charges for BB Guns in New Jersey
While there are numerous ways in which a person can be charged with a gun crime related to BB guns, there are also numerous ways to defend yourself. Perhaps one of the most effective defense strategies is to challenge the validity of the search and seizure that led the police to your BB gun.
Searches and seizures by law enforcement must adhere to strict warrant requirements. In general, the police must have a warrant to conduct a search or seize evidence unless their actions fall under an exception to the rules. If a warrant was used in your case, we can examine the warrant and look for flaws that might render the warrant invalid. If no warrant was used, we can challenge the validity of the exception claimed by law enforcement.
If we are successful, we can suppress the BB gun and prevent it from being introduced as evidence against you. This is crucial because, in any gun-related crime, the gun itself is typically the star of the show. It is very difficult to get charges to stick for a gun crime when there is no gun. Our New Jersey firearms defense attorneys can help you challenge the evidence against you and fight your charges.
Call Our New Jersey Firearm Defense Attorneys
BB guns are more than mere toys, and you could be criminally charged for violating gun laws. If you are facing such charges, call our New Jersey firearms defense lawyers for help. Arrange a free legal case review with the compassionate lawyers of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Call us at (609) 616-4956.