State Goes After BB Guns: “Young kids can get a felony charge and their lives are basically over”

Kimberly Paxton

In New Jersey, an unregistered BB gun could mean jail time.

That’s right…a BB gun. That iconic, much-desired gift from the movie, A Christmas Story. Apparently the government is just as deeply concerned about the potential of someone putting an eye out with a BB gun as Ralphie’s mother was. They are so concerned that if you don’t register your air gun, pellet gun, or BB gun, you could go directly to jail. Do not stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

State Goes After BB Guns “Young kids can get a felony charge and their lives are basically over”

  • Unlawful Possession of a Machine Gun, Handgun, Rifle or Shotgun, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(a), (b) or (c).
  •  Possession of a Sawed-Off Shotgun, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(b).
  • Possession of a Defaced Firearm, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(d).
  •  Possession of a Firearm While in the Course of Committing a Drug Distribution or Possession With Intent to Distribute Offense, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1(a).
  • Possession of Certain Weapons by Persons Previously Convicted of Specified Offenses, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(a) or (b)(2).
  • The Manufacture, Transport, or Disposition of a Machine Gun, Sawed-Off Shotgun, or Assault Firearm, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-9(a), (b), or (g).
  • The Defacement of a Firearm, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-9(e). (source)

Under the Graves Act, all guns must be registered, and this includes BB guns, pellet guns, and air guns, despite the fact that they are not actually “firearms”. According to the ATF,the definition of a firearm is very specific:

“The term “firearm” is defined in the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Section 921(a)(3), to include “(A) any weapon (including a starter gun), which will, or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon….” Based on Section 921(a)(3), air guns, because they use compressed air and not an explosive to expel a projectile, do not constitute firearms under Federal law — unless they are manufactured with the frames or receivers of an actual firearm. Accordingly, the domestic sale and possession of air guns is normally unregulated under the Federal firearms laws enforced by ATF.” (source)

Despite the fact that it doesn’t fall into the definition, if you’re caught transporting a BB gun in your vehicle, for example, and it’s unsecured and unlicensed, you could face mandatory jail time. Even though these “guns” are powered by air or by spring mechanisms, the Graves Act does not differentiate between a BB gun and a sawed-off shotgun.

“In all honesty, kids who are charged are looking at mandatory jail time,” said New Jersey attorney William Proetta, adding that under the state’s Graves Act, a conviction could lead to prison time. “The only defense is to request a waiver but if that’s not granted, young kids can get a felony charge and their lives are basically over.”

New Jersey’s strict Graves Act gun law covers possession of a BB gun right alongside serious gun control measures outlawing sawed-off shotguns, filing serial numbers off of guns or using firearms to commit crimes. Violating the act can bring a minimum three-year prison term and steep fines. (source)

As with anything, accidents do happen, of course. A ridiculous pro-gun control blog on the New York Times website gleefully outlined death and horrible injuries that occurred with BB guns in response to news reports about the application of criminal charges against unwitting BB, pellet, and air gun owners. In New Jersey, it appears that the 2nd Amendment only applies if you pay them for a registration in order to use that Constitutional right.

So if you happen to live in the state of New Jersey, and you want to put a BB gun under the Christmas tree this year, make your decision with full knowledge of the legal risks you could be facing. They’re working hard to demonize guns there, and your kid could pay the price by being labeled a felon for an innocent childhood rite of passage.

4 Responses

  1. DavidG says:

    REMEMBER this next time you hear about Christie running for President.

  2. carl says:

    total idiots nothing more to say…

  3. 5 War Veteran says:

    New Jersey like New York and a few other anti American states who confuse responsibility with over bearing control have forgotten what freedom is. They have forgotten what the USA was built on. They now believe in taxation without representation. They push ever more burdening forms of control and have thrown common sense out the window.
    Thew will process children for making hand signs that look like weapons while children play games yet allow cell phone users to text and drive. Allow ‘doctors’ to prescribe mind altering drugs haphazardly and allow criminal political entities to remain in office. Common sense has left the political arena and our “representatives” have become the criminals in control.
    Oh I wish there were someone intelligent enough out there to have an adult conversation.
    I am sure glad I am old and do not have much longer to live because dealing with idiots is becoming a daily nuisance.

    Timeout 1

    Timeout 2

  4. Michael J. Marsalek says:

    This should not surprise anyone. We live in a world where children can be suspended from school for pretending their hands & fingers are a gun or shooting a pretend bow & arrow, water guns cannot remotely resemble guns and are now called water squirters and babies can be severely disciplined for kissing another child’s hand. It’s outrageous that the US government should criticize any other government for human rights abuses and especially since Americans can be fined and/or inprisoned for not having or purchasing health insurance approved by the government.

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