What Everyone Should Know About Nevada’s Gun Laws

I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Bundy Ranch incident that occurred in Nevada last month. A 20 year legal dispute between the Bureau of Land Management and rancher, Cliven Bundy, over unpaid grazing fees, turned into an armed standoff between protesters and law enforcement. With all these gun toting protesters walking around, I believe now would be a good time to review some of the State of Nevada’s current gun laws.

In 1982, the Nevada Constitution, Article 1, Section 11, was amended to state “Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes.” However, Nevada still has restrictive gun laws especially when it comes to handguns. For instance,Clark County Code 12.04.110 requires registration of handguns. Additionally, discharge of any firearm within city limits is prohibited by Clark County Code 12.04.230.

Who may possess a firearm?

The minimum age for possessing or transporting guns is 18 years of age. Minors under the age of 18 may possess a firearm if they are accompanied by a parent, guardian or other designee.

It is never a good idea to possess a gun while drinking alcohol. Pursuant to NRS 202.257, no one may possess a firearm if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.10 or more. Any person who does so, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

NRS 202.360(1) states a person convicted of a felony in any state cannot possess a firearm as well as fugitives from justice, and unlawful users or addicts of controlled substances. A violation of NRS 202.360(1) is a Category B felony and is punishable by 1-6 years in state prison. NRS 202.360(2) prohibits any person who has been adjudicated mentally ill or is illegally or unlawfully in the United States from owning or possessing a firearm. A violation of NRS202.360(2) is a Category D felony and is punishable by 1-4 years in state prison.

Can a person carry concealed a firearm on their person?

Nevada is not a “constitutional carry state,” which allows residents to carry concealed handguns without a permit. In fact, it is a felony to carry a handgun concealed without a permit. NRS 202.350 (1)(d)(3), states that a person within the State shall not carry concealed upon his person a pistol, revolver or other firearm. A violation of this section is a Category C felony punishable by 1-5 years in state prison.

What does “carry concealed upon one’s person” mean?

The Attorney General’s Office rendered Opinion No.9-14, which determined that concealed weapons that are actually on the person include a container also carried by the person. So, concealed upon your person includes any purse, pouch, bag, handbag or briefcase that you carry.

Who can get a concealed weapons permit (CCW)?

Nevada is a shall issue state for concealed weapons permits. This means if you meet the statutory qualifications, the County Sherriff must issue you a permit. NRS 202.3657 states that the Sherriff shall issue a permit to any person who is qualified to possess a handgun under state and federal law, who submits an application and is 21 years of age or older, is not prohibited from possessing a firearm (a felon, a fugitive from justice, or an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance), and demonstrates competence with handguns by presenting a certificate of completion from a course in firearm safety. However, an application shall be denied if the applicant:

  • Has an outstanding warrant of arrest;
  • Has been judicially declared incompetent or insane;
  • Has been admitted to a mental health facility during the preceding 5 years;
  • Has habitually used intoxicating liquor or a controlled substance;
  • Has been convicted of a crime involving the use or threatened use of force punishable as a misdemeanor during the preceding 3 years;
  • Has been convicted of a felony;
  • Has been convicted of a crime involving domestic violence or stalking, or is currently subject to a restraining order for protection against domestic violence;
  • Is currently on parole or probation from a conviction; or
  • Has made a false statement on any application for a permit or for the renewal of a permit.

What is “open carry?”

A gun in a holster that is readily discernible is considered “open carry.” Nevada law does not prohibit carrying a firearm openly. However, a partially visible handgun may be considered concealed. If you do not have a CCW, it is best to have your gun completely out in the open in a holster. Do not have the gun sticking out of a pocket or a purse. Do not allow the gun to be partially or fully covered by clothing, such as a jacket or shirt.

Additionally, there are places you do not want to carry a firearm, even if you have a valid CCW permit. Nevada law forbids carrying a firearm in the following locations:

  • Federal buildings, post offices and buildings used by government offices;
  • Property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or child care facility;
  • Airports and buildings on property of a public airport;
  • County and City parks where prohibited;
  • Public buildings with metal detectors at each entrance or a sign posted at each entrance with “no firearms allowed in the building;”
  • Any facility of a law enforcement agency;
  • Any prison, county or city jail, or detention facility;
  • Any courthouse or courtroom; and
  • Buildings in national parks.

Finally, never point a gun at another human being unless you are in fear for your life and you intend to shoot them. Under NRS 202.290, it is unlawful to aim a firearm at another human being, whether the gun is loaded or not, and is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in County jail.

Hopefully this article has answered some of your questions about gun laws in the State of Nevada. By no means is this a comprehensive review of all the gun laws in Nevada, but rather a starting point. For a more practical instruction of gun laws in Nevada, I would recommend taking an approved course on firearm safety, such as one that is required for a concealed carry permit.

The Great Vegas Festival of Beer

On Saturday, April 26, 2014, this event,a favorite with locals, returns to downtown Vegas. In attendance will be over 80 Breweries sampling their craft beers. Additionally, there will be live music, games and of course food served up by local food trucks and restaurants. To gain admission you must be at least 21 years of age with a valid photo ID. Tickets start at $40 for entry and include unlimited samples of over 250 craft beers. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit the Nevada Craft Brewers Association as well as The Boys and Girls Club of Las Vegas.

When attending this type of event it is a good idea to have a designated driver. Designated driver tickets are available for $20 and include water and soda. I know many of you will find yourself without a designated driver this weekend and will take the chance of driving yourself home. I would not recommend that any of you make this decision but I know it will still happen. If you find yourself coming into contact with law enforcement on your drive home here are some things to remember to protect yourself.

In Nevada, there are two ways to convict someone of a DUI. The first is under a “per se” theory. If an individual has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, that individual is per se intoxicated. Under this theory, the government has to prove that you were driving a motor vehicle and had a BAC over .08 within two hours of the stop. The second is known as an impairment theory. This is used when the government does not know or cannot prove what an individual’s BAC is. Here, the government must prove that you were driving a motor vehicle while you were impaired by an intoxicating liquor. This theory requires a lot more evidence to be obtained by the investigating officer.

When you are stopped by a police officer you will be questioned. The officer is questioning you because he or she is investigating a potential crime. It could be because the officer witnessed you commit a traffic violation, or because your taillight is burned out or because the officer suspects you are under the influence of an intoxicating liquor. The list can go on and on. The important thing to remember is that the officer is there to gather evidence…evidence against you. You do not have to help him or her in gathering this evidence. Specifically, you do not have to perform field sobriety tests.

When an officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests, it is because the officer already suspects that you are intoxicated. Police officers are trained to recognize many different signs that a person has been drinking alcohol. We all know the common indicators. An erratic driving pattern such as weaving within your lane or outside your lane, an odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from your person, bloodshot watery eyes, slurred speech, and trouble maintaining balance. The officer will document all of these observations in his or her police report. Additionally, the officer will ask you to perform and will document how you perform field sobriety tests.

Again, you do not have to do these tests. There are three tests that have been extensively studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The first is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test.  An officer will ask you to follow an object, usually his or her finger, with your eyes. For most people, nystagmus, or a jerking movement of the eye, is not present. However, consumption of alcohol causes nystagmus to occur. NHTSA studies state that failure of this test indicates an 88% likelihood of a .08 or higher BAC.

The second test is the Walk and Turn test. The officer will ask you to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After the nine steps you must turn on one foot and walk back in the same manner. Failure of this test indicates a 79% percent likelihood of a .08 or higher BAC.

The third test is the One Leg Stand test. Here, the officer will instruct you to stand with one foot six inches off the ground and count aloud until told to put your foot down. The officer will time you for 30 seconds. NHTSA research states failure of this test indicates a 83% likelihood of a .08 or higher BAC.

If you fail all three tests, research indicates a 91% likelihood of a BAC over .08. This is usually enough evidence for a Judge to convict someone of driving under the influence on an impairment theory alone. Again, you do not have to do these tests. Nevada law does not require anyone to submit to standardized field sobriety tests. The officer cannot force you to perform these tests. The only reason the officer wants you take these tests is so he or she can build a case against you.

After the field sobriety tests, the officer may ask you to perform a preliminary breath test using a portable breathalyzer. Do this test. This test cannot be used as evidence of your BAC. If you refuse to take this test, Nevada law states that the officer shall seize your driver’s license, arrest you and take you for evidentiary testing. This is usually done at one of the detention centers in the Las Vegas valley.

At the detention center you have the choice of submitting to a breath test or a blood test. Do this test. If you refuse the evidentiary test, the officer can force you to submit to a blood draw. You will be tied down and your blood will be forcibly taken.

I hope none of you will have to experience any of what I have explained this weekend. If you are stopped by law enforcement, please remember to be courteous. The officer is just doing his or her job. But, also remember you have rights and you do not have to help law enforcement build a case against you. Be safe and have fun!