A huge misconception in New Jersey is that pellet guns are toys and can be carried and shot with no precautions. However, B-B guns are actually considered real firearms in this state under statute 2C:39-5. This has inherently created a big problem in recent years with air guns and pistols like Airsoft guns becoming extremely popular and easily accessible over the counter since a firearms identification card is usually not required. They are especially popular with teenagers and young adults because you only have to be 18 years old to buy them. This conflict leads us to often represent clients against pellet gun charges involving Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purposes or Unlawful Possession of a Pellet Pistol. Proetta & Oliver represents clients throughout New Jersey including Linden, Scotch Plains, Clark, Cranford, Union Township, Roselle Park, Springfield and Westfield. 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 (908) 838-0150 for a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Air 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, even though the charge is lowered to a third degree, it still carries serious penalties such as 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. Therefore, the argument could be made that you do not need a firearms purchaser ID card to buy, own or possess an air gun rifle because under 2C:58-3(b) the statute only seems to require a firearms ID card for a rifle or shotgun, rather then “firearms” in general. However, it is always better to err on the side of caution as the State Police website states that a firearms ID card is in fact required for airguns. Nevertheless, possession of an air or pellet rifle for unlawful purposes or under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful use are still serious felonies. Please see the New Jersey State Police Air Gun FAQs for more details.
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
It should be no secret that the New Jersey gun laws are very serious and complicated. And gun laws as applied to BB guns are extremely convoluted. For instance, Federal law 15 U.S.C. 5001 prohibits New Jersey from banning the sale of BB but it does not prevent New Jersey from classifying pellet 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 avoid incarceration and 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 (908) 838-0150 for a free initial consultation over the phone with an experienced BB gun defense attorney or to schedule an appointment.
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