Is it Legal to Shoot a Gun in the Air in Nevada?

Whether it is the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, or another big national holiday, some people across the country end the night’s festivities with celebratory gunfire. While this may seem like an exciting and fun way to celebrate, it is important to understand that bullets that go up in the air have to come down. Often times, these stray bullets can harm -- or even fatally kill -- innocent bystanders. It is also important to know that most states across the country -- including Nevada -- prohibit such discharge of firearms. That being said, Nevada is generally open carry across the state.

Nevada Firearm Laws

State law prohibits individuals from maliciously or wantonly shooting a firearm from inside a vehicle or structure. A structure includes a house, office building, and even a tent. There are exceptions, however, such as law enforcement officers, licensed hunters, and any other person who is acting within the lawful course of their business. Typical defenses the accused put forward when charged with this crime include that the defendant was acting in accordance with Nevada’s self-defense laws, not acting maliciously or wantonly when firing off the gun, and/or acting in accordance with Nevada law.

If the place where the vehicle or building is located within certain statutorily-recognized public areas, firing a gun is considered a category B felony. Penalties may include two to 15 years in state prison and/or up to a $5,000.00 fine as well as revocation of gun rights, only restorable through a pardon. If the vehicle or building is not located in such an area, discharging a gun is a misdemeanor with penalties including up to six months jail time and/or a fine of up to $1,000.00.

Discharging a Firearm in Nevada

Nevada law finds it a crime to discharge a gun, or cause a gun to be fired,  in a malicious or wanton manner from inside a structure or vehicle. The law does not distinguish whether or not the bullet remains within the structure or vehicle or if it is shot out of it. Additionally, the law does not distinguish if the shooter is inside, on top of, or underneath the structure or vehicle. The legal definition of “structure” or “vehicle” under Nevada law is quite broad, encompassing:

  • Car;

  • Truck;

  • Motorcycle;

  • Trolley;

  • Train;

  • Houses;

  • Rooms;

  • Tents;

  • apartments ;

  • Tenements;

  • Outhouses;

  • Shops;

  • Stores;

  • Warehouses;

  • Barns;

  • Mills;

  • Stables; and

  • Any other building.

As can be seen, Nevada law is broad when it comes to limiting where someone is legally allowed to discharge a firearm. It is important to understand that celebratory gunfire is dangerous and illegal.

In addition to being a crime, such recklessness could subject the person discharging the firearm to civil liability, as such actions are at a minimum grossly negligent and may well be sufficient basis for granting punitive damages.

Nevada Legal Help

If you or someone you know has questions about gun laws, or has been injured due to gunfire, contact the skilled Nevada attorneys at Parry & Pfau. With years of experience representing the injured in Las Vegas and across the state of Nevada, these knowledgeable attorneys can explain your rights and obligations under state law. Click here to scheduled an initial, free, case evaluation with one of our attorneys.

(image courtesy of Max Saeling)