POSSESSION OF GUN OR WEAPON ON SCHOOL GROUNDS
As is probably no surprise, it is illegal to possess a gun or other dangerous weapon on school grounds. Convictions for doing so are severe and include jail time and harsh fines.
What is the legal definition of possession of a dangerous weapon on school grounds?
The laws relating to making, possessing or selling a fake bomb are governed by NRS 202.253, and 202.265.
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 202.265 – Possession of dangerous weapon on property or in vehicle of school or child care facility; penalty; exceptions.
- Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not carry or possess while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or child care facility, or while in a vehicle of a private or public school or child care facility:
- An explosive or incendiary device;
- A dirk, dagger or switchblade knife;
- A nunchaku or trefoil;
- A blackjack or billy club or metal knuckles;
- A pneumatic gun;
- A pistol, revolver or other firearm; or
- Any device used to mark any part of a person with paint or any other substance.
- Any person who violates subsection 1 is guilty of a misdemeanor.
- This section does not prohibit the possession of a weapon listed in subsection 1 on the property of:
- A private or public school or child care facility by a:
- Peace officer;
- School security guard; or
- Person having written permission from the president of a branch or facility of the Nevada System of Higher Education or the principal of the school or the person designated by a child care facility to give permission to carry or possess the weapon.
- A child care facility which is located at or in the home of a natural person by the person who owns or operates the facility so long as the person resides in the home and the person complies with any laws governing the possession of such a weapon.
- A private or public school or child care facility by a:
- The provisions of this section apply to a child care facility located at or in the home of a natural person only during the normal hours of business of the facility.
- For the purposes of this section:
- “Child care facility” means any child care facility that is licensed pursuant to chapter 432A of NRS or licensed by a city or county.
- “Nunchaku” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 202.350.
- “Pneumatic gun” means any implement designed as a gun that may expel a ball bearing or a pellet by action of pneumatic pressure. The term includes, without limitation, a paintball gun that expels plastic balls filled with paint for the purpose of marking the point of impact.
- “Switchblade knife” means a spring-blade knife, snap-blade knife or any other knife having the appearance of a pocketknife any blade of which is 2 or more inches long and which can be released automatically by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle or other mechanical device, or is released by any type of mechanism. The term does not include a knife which has a blade that is held in place by a spring if the blade does not have any type of automatic release.
- “Trefoil” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 202.350.
- “Vehicle” has the meaning ascribed to “school bus in NRS 484A.230.
I can understand not allowing guns on school property, but what about other weapons?
No weapons of any kind are allowed on school property. There are two parts to this law that need to be understood:
- The definition of “School Property”; and
- The definition of “weapon.”
So, what is the definition of “school property”?
For the purposes of this statute, “school property” includes:
- Public school property:
- Private school property:
- Any vehicle belonging to a public or private school (generally speaking, this would mean school busses, but can include any other vehicle owned by a school);
- Public Universities;
- Licensed child care facilities;
- Any vehicle owned by a licensed child care facility.
Basically any place that is tasked with providing a “safe” place for children to be is considered a “school” for the purposes of NRS 202.265.
Okay, then what is the definition of a “weapon”?
Basically anything that is typically considered a “weapon”:
- Dirks (a short-handled dagger);
- Guns of any kind;
- Incendiary devices;
- Blackjacks (a type of short club);
- Billy clubs;
- Metal Knuckles;
- Trefoils (a type of 3-pronged weapon);
- Paintball guns (or any other device used to mark other people with paint or other similar substances).
So, none of those things are allowed on school property?
Exactly. And it is important to understand that this law applies to all of the “property” of the school. In other words, going to a school football game and carrying a weapon would still a violation, even though you had never set foot on the school, or in any of the buildings.
What if I have a license to carry a concealed weapon?
Even with a Carry Concealed Weapons (“CCW”) permit, carrying a weapon on school property is prohibited.
What are the possible penalties?
Possessing or carrying a weapon on school property is a gross misdemeanor, which means the possible penalties include:
- Up to 364 days in jail; and/or
- Possible fines up to $2,000.
Are there any Defenses?
Yes, of course there are. Some of the possible defenses include:
- Law Enforcement – Security Guards and peace officers are allowed to carry weapons on school grounds as part of their official duties. Consequently, someone who was carrying a weapon while acting in their official duty as a law enforcement officer on the school grounds cannot be convicted for doing so.
- Personal Residence – Child care facilities that are located within someone’s personal residence have certain rules that apply only to them:
- Business Hours – The prohibition against possessing weapons only applies during business hours;
- Owner/operator – The owner or operator of a child care facility is allowed to carry a weapon at any time, but only if he or she:
- Lives on the premises; and
- Complies with all other laws for the weapon.
- Written Permission – Other people may carry a weapon at a child care facility that is a personal residence if they have written permission from the person designated to give such permission
- Not a weapon – It is probably no surprise, but the most important element in the crime of possessing a weapon on school property is that a weapon is actually present. Consequently, if your attorney can show that your “weapon” did not qualify as a weapon under this law, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed. It is important that you contact an experience defense attorney who can determine whether the item you possessed qualifies as a “weapon.”
- Illegal Search – Law enforcement officers are not permitted to search your person simply because they feel like it. They must have probable cause to do so. Any evidence found during an illegal search, one conducted without the required probable cause or a search warrant. As a result, if you were found to possess a weapon on school property through an illegal search, then your attorney should be able to get the evidence thrown out as “fruit of the poisoned tree.” If enough evidence is thrown out, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
- Lack of knowledge – While it may seem counter-intuitive, knowledge is a required element to any kind of possession charge. The more likely that the weapon could have been in your possession without your knowledge, the more likely this defense will succeed. For example, it is far more likely that you would not know about a weapon that was concealed in a bag in your possession, than that you wouldn’t know about a weapon that was tucked into your pants pocket. If you can show that you had no knowledge of the weapon’s existence, 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 Possessing a weapon on school property?
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.