AIMING A GUN AT A PERSON
The nature of guns and other firearms makes them very dangerous. Similarly, because they are mechanical, they can malfunction and go off accidentally. Consequently, the Legislature has determined that simply aiming a gun at another person is criminal since the gun may go off and injure the other person. Convictions for doing so are severe and include jail time and harsh fines.
What is the legal definition of aiming a gun at another person?
The laws relating to removing or changing the serial number on a weapon are governed by NRS 202.253, and 202.290.
NRS 202.253 – Definitions.
As used in NRS 202.253 to 202.369, inclusive:
- “Explosive of incendiary device” means any explosive or incendiary device material or substance that has been constructed, altered, packaged or arranged in such a manner that its ordinary use would cause destruction or injury to life or property.
- “Firearm” means any device designed to be used as a weapon from which a projectile may be expelled through the barrel by the force of any explosion or other form of combustion.
- “Firearm capable of being concealed upon the person” applies to and includes all firearms having a barrel less than 12 inches in length.
- “Motor vehicle” means every vehicle that is self-propelled.
NRS 202.290 – Aiming a firearm at human being; discharging weapon where person might be endangered; penalty.
Unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 202.287, a person who willfully:
- Aims any gun, pistol, revolver or other firearm, whether loaded or not, at or toward any human being; or
- Discharges any firearm, air gun or other weapon, or throws any deadly missile in a public place or in any place where any person might be endangered thereby, although an injury does not result,
- is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
So, it is illegal just to aim a gun at another person?
Yes, it is. Guns, by nature, are very dangerous. Consequently, the Nevada Legislature has determined that simply aiming a gun at another person should be illegal because of the possible reactions that may occur, be it from possible self-defense, or the reaction of others in defense of the person the gun is aimed at.
Isn’t that basically just an assault, then?
It can be. Certainly, if you were to aim a gun at someone and that person were to be in fear of imminent harm, then aiming the gun at them would be an assault. However, aiming a gun at someone causes fear to anyone who sees it, and as such is considered a different crime from assault. In fact, even if the person who the gun is being aimed at has no fear of any imminent harm, it is still a violation of NRS 202.290.
What if the gun is not loaded?
Aiming an unloaded gun at a person is still a violation of NRS 202.290. The explanation goes back to the difference between NRS 202.290 and Assault. As noted above, aiming a gun at a person may cause fear, or an adverse reaction of some kind, from a bystander or witness. As a result, it makes no difference if the gun is loaded or not.
Please Note: This differentiation is also why aiming a gun at another person is not considered battery or attempted murder, or any other similar crime. The aiming of a gun at another person is a crime because of how everyone nearby may react to the crime.
What are the possible penalties?
Aiming a gun at a person is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying with it:
- Up to 364 days in jail; and/or
- Possible fines up to $2,000.
Please Note : Assault, Battery, attempted murder, or any other crimes that might apply given the specific circumstances, may be charged along with Aiming a gun, if the facts allow. Convictions may apply for any and/or all possible crimes and the Court will determine whether the sentences will run concurrently (at the same time) or consecutive (one after the other).
Are there any Defenses?
Yes, of course there are. Some of the possible defenses include:
Not aimed at a person – If your attorney can show that the gun was not, in fact, aimed at a person, but bystanders had mistaken the aim, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
Not a gun – Interestingly, despite the intent of this statute, aiming a toy gun at a person is not a violation of this crime, even if the toy gun is made to look identical to a real gun. If the prosecution cannot show that the gun used was not a firearm, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
Not a weapon (Paintball/Airsoft) – Paintball is a very common game. There would not be much sense in charging everyone who played paintball with a crime, particularly since no one involved is fearful of imminent harm, including the participants or witnesses. As a result, if your attorney can show that you were playing a game, such as paintball or using airsoft guns, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
Self-defense – Self-defense is a common and well-known defense. It provides that a person is allowed to use reasonable and appropriate force to defend themselves or others from immediate harm or death. If your attorney can show that you were fearful of imminent harm or death, and that you were aiming a gun as a form of reasonable and necessary self-defense, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed
Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
What should I do if I’ve been charged with Aiming a gun at a person?
As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.