BB guns, including airsoft guns or other spring-loaded and air rifles, are low-power guns that fire off small pellets. These guns are far less dangerous than real firearms and are seldom deadly. In fact, many people consider BB guns to be nothing more than a toy. However, BB guns can still be dangerous if misused, and there could be criminal consequences.
While federal laws regulate BB guns to promote safety among users, the State of Utah does not have any additional laws for BB guns on the books. Although a BB gun is not technically considered a firearm, there will be serious consequences for defendants charged with using a BB gun in the commission of a crime. BB guns are often made to look just like real firearms, and using a BB gun in public or a crime may cause fear and confusion.
If you are facing criminal charges related to a BB gun, you should consult with an attorney immediately. Our Utah criminal defense lawyers can help you fight your charges. The team at Overson Law, PLLC is ready to meet you in a free case review to talk about your case. Call us at (801) 758-2287.
Is a BB Gun Considered a Weapon in Utah?
There are multiple kinds of BB guns. Some fire plastic pellets and are commonly viewed as children’s toys. Others fire metal pellets and are more appropriate for things like target practice or even hunting very small animals. BB guns may be discharged using cartridges of pressurized gas, like C02 or “green gas.” Other BB guns are spring operated. Generally, BB guns are not powered by any form of combustion like a traditional firearm.
BB guns present a tricky problem when they are entangled in criminal charges. While they are technically not considered firearms, they are not totally disregarded by prosecutors when assessing criminal charges. It is very possible that prosecutors will argue the BB gun in your case counts as a dangerous weapon under Utah Code 76-10-501.
According to Utah law, a dangerous weapon is anything that, when used in the manner it is intended for, can cause death or serious bodily injury. While the likelihood of death by BB gun is probably low, bodily injury is still possible.
Utah has no unique state laws regarding BB guns. However, Utah follows all federal regulations for BB guns. According to federal law, under 18 U.S.C. § 921, a firearm is a weapon designed to expel projectiles by the use of an explosive. BB guns are not considered firearms because they use compressed air or springs to fire projectiles rather than an explosive.
Since BB guns are technically not firearms, the strict regulations surrounding guns and gun ownership do not apply to BB guns in Utah. This includes requirements for permits and background checks, for example. People often buy BB guns for kids and teenagers as gifts. However, some regulations must be adhered to.
Federal law requires that all BB guns are manufactured with a bright orange flare at the tip of the gun’s muzzle. This way, people can immediately identify the weapon as a BB gun rather than a deadly firearm. However, there is no state law requiring that BB gun owners must leave the orange tip intact. It is not illegal to remove the orange tip or cover it up after purchasing a BB gun.
Be warned, while the State of Utah has no rules other than federal law, local towns and cities might have ordinances that ban or prohibit the use of BB guns. Our Murray criminal defense attorneys can help you fight any BB gun-related criminal charges.
Criminal Charges Related to BB Guns in Utah
In most cases, a crime committed with a BB gun will be treated as if an ordinary gun or firearm was used. Crimes in which the use of a weapon may lead to upgraded charges may be implicated when a BB gun is used. For example, using a BB gun to commit armed robbery may be charged as if a firearm was used even if the weapon in question was technically not a firearm.
A person cannot use a BB gun in an attempt to complete a crime and then argue their charges should be reduced because they did not technically use a gun within the meaning of the law. This kind of defense is unlikely to succeed, and your charges will be assessed as if a real gun was used.
The same goes for crimes like harassment, stalking, or assault where a gun is used to threaten or intimidate. BB guns are often made to look like very real firearms, which can easily frighten or intimidate others. While BB guns are often viewed as harmless or even classified as a child’s toy, they can cause serious damage if used in the wrong way. Serious damage to people’s eyes is a very common BB gun problem, and BB guns are often used to shoot out windows on cars and houses. You could face very serious charges for a violent crime if you shot someone with a BB gun.
Federal regulations under the Brady Act that prohibit certain people from owning firearms may also apply to BB guns. For example, having felony and domestic violence convictions or being addicted to drugs might make having a BB gun illegal. You could be charged for possessing a BB gun if you meet certain restrictive criteria. The rules and regulations surrounding BB guns can be confusing, but our Park City criminal defense attorneys are here to help.
Fighting Criminal Charges Related to BB Guns in Utah
BB guns are not deadly weapons. However, a BB gun might be considered a dangerous weapon under Utah Code § 76-10-501. As such, certain people like convicted felons might be prohibited from owning them. If your charges relate to ownership, we can challenge the reasons for your exclusion.
If your charges are connected with a crime allegedly committed using a BB gun, we can argue to downgrade the charges. It is possible that Utah prosecutors will attempt to overcharge you because of the BB gun. It would not be surprising for prosecutors to argue that the BB gun is a deadly weapon. However, we can argue that BB guns are unlike ordinary firearms because they are very rarely, if ever, deadly. Our Riverton criminal defense attorneys can help you present the strongest defense possible for your situation.
Call Our Utah BB Gun Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you are charged with a crime involving a BB gun, you should speak with an attorney. Our St. George criminal defense attorneys are prepared to fight your charges. Contact the offices of Overson Law, PLLC by calling (801) 758-2287. Schedule a free case review with our dedicated team.