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Nevada Gun Control Laws

Nevada, with its Old West history of gunslingers and mining towns, may not conjure up the image as a state focused on gun control. After a tragic incident, it became a focal point of the ongoing debate over gun laws and public safety. 

In 2017, a lone gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas from a 32nd-floor hotel suite, killing 58 persons and injuring hundreds more. Two of those injured died from injuries suffered during the massacre. It remains the deadliest mass shooting in American history. 

As a result, many in Nevada and elsewhere chose to revisit their gun control laws.

The Las Vegas gunman had some 23 firearms at the time of the shooting. Most of the shots came from AR-15 assault-style rifles, many of which were equipped with bump stocks. Many claim that bump stocks, when attached to semi-automatic rifles, allow a weapon to fire as a fully automatic firearm, like a machine gun. 

After the massacre, Congress considered legislation to ban bump stocks. When action in Congress stalled, the Trump Administration moved to make a rule change under administrative law to outlaw bump stocks. The Biden Administration continued that effort. Litigation on the legality of the rule change remains pending. 

The State of Nevada banned bump stocks in 2019. It also enacted a red flag law that year so that family members or law enforcement could petition a court for an order for protection against high-risk behavior and confiscate firearms from a person found to be at risk of causing harm to self or others.

Federal Firearms Law

An understanding of federal firearms law begins with the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which speaks of the right to bear arms. In recent case law, the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the amendment as providing an individual right to bear arms in public for self-defense and other lawful purposes. The right is not absolute and remains subject to state and federal regulation. 

In 2022, the Court stated the test of whether a regulation is reasonable and not overly burdensome to the right to bear arms is a historical one. This has led to several new challenges to state and federal laws related to the carrying of firearms in public and prohibitions against firearm possession.

Longstanding federal legislation sets a framework for the legal manufacture, sale, possession, and use of firearms. The federal government licenses gun dealers through its administrative agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). 

The ATF oversees the registration and use of certain dangerous weapons such as machine guns. Federal law also provides certain categories of persons, like felons, who cannot possess firearms.

Limited Authority

Nevada law defines a firearm as any device designed to be used as a weapon from which a projectile can be expelled through the barrel by the force of any explosion or other form of combustion. A handgun with a barrel less than 12 inches long is a firearm that can be concealed.

Nevada exercises limited authority in its regulation of firearms. It does not require permits to purchase guns, firearm registration, or licenses for gun owners. It does not impose a waiting period from the time of a firearm purchase to its delivery. The state has passed laws banning bump stocks and undetectable or "ghost" guns. However, it has not outlawed assault weapons.

Since 2020, Nevada state law has required criminal background checks in private sales and transfers of firearms. Private and unlicensed individuals must go through a licensed dealer for a background check. This helps prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. 

Firearms can be open-carried throughout Nevada, though carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun inside a motor vehicle on or along a public road is illegal.

A Shall Issue State

Nevada requires citizens to obtain a concealed carry weapon or CCW permit to carry a concealed firearm. Nevada, like Texas, Florida, Colorado, and Oregon, is a "shall issue" state, which means concealed carry permits must be issued to all qualified applicants who meet the objective criteria outlined in the statute. 

Applicants must be 21 years or older in most circumstances. Nevada residents apply through their local county sheriff (see NRS 202.3657). Non-residents can apply to any Nevada county sheriff. Applicants must provide their driver's license information and submit their fingerprints. The sheriff will run a criminal background check as part of the process. 

The Nevada Department of Public Safety issues a reciprocity list on an annual basis. It provides what other state permits will be recognized by Nevada. Details on eligibility for a concealed firearm permit can be found in the table below. Carrying a concealed weapon in Nevada without a permit is a felony offense.

Like other states, Nevada state law sets forth certain locations where a person cannot carry a firearm, even when they have a CCW permit. Prohibited locations include:

  • Any facility of a law enforcement agency
  • Prisons, jails, and detention facilities
  • Courthouses and courtrooms
  • A public airport
  • A private or public school, childcare facility, or property of the Nevada System of Higher Education (colleges and universities), with certain exceptions
  • Public buildings with metal detectors and posted notices prohibiting firearms
  • State legislative buildings and locations
  • Other federal, state, or local government buildings, unless permission is granted

Nevada Gun Laws at a Glance

Learn more about Nevada gun control laws in the table below. See Details on State Gun Control Laws for more general information.

Relevant Nevada Gun Control Statutes (Laws)

Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS)

Title 3, Chapter 33, Injunctions and Protection Orders, Sections 33.010 through 33.670

Title 15, Chapter 202, Weapons, Sections 202.253 through 202.369

  • Background check required for certain sales or transfers of firearms between unlicensed persons - Section 202.2547
  • Possession of a dangerous weapon on property or in the vehicle of school or childcare facility - Section 202.265
  • Unlawful manufacture or sale of metal penetrating bullets - Section 202-273
  • Unlawful import, sale, manufacture, transfer, receipt, or possession of certain semiautomatic firearms, devices, or parts that modify semiautomatic firearms (bump stocks) - Section 202.274
  • Possession, manufacture, or disposition of short-barreled rifle or short-barreled shotgun - Section 202.275
  • Changing, altering, removing, or obliterating serial number of a firearm prohibited - Section 202.277
  • Use or possession of firearm by child under 18 - Section 202-300
  • Sale of firearms to minors - Section 202-310
  • Manufacture, importation, possession, or use of dangerous weapon or silencer; carrying a concealed weapon without a permit; penalties; issuance of a permit to carry a concealed weapon - Section 202.350
  • Ownership or possession of a firearm by certain persons prohibited; penalties - Section 202-360
  • Sale, transfer, or disposal of firearm or ammunition to prohibited persons - Section 202-362
  • Application for permit; eligibility; denial or revocation of permit - Section 202.3657
  • Permittee to carry permit and proper identification when in possession of a concealed firearm; penalty - Section 202.3667
  • Permittee authorized to carry a concealed firearm while on premises of public building; exceptions; penalty - Section 202.3673

Illegal Arms

The following firearms are prohibited in Nevada without a valid state or federal license or registration:

  • Any device that allows a semiautomatic firearm to operate like an automatic firearm or materially increases the firearm's rate of fire, such as bump stocks
  • Short-barreled rifle
  • Short-barreled shotgun
  • A defaced firearm (a firearm with a serial number that has been changed, altered, removed, or obliterated)
  • A machine gun
  • A silencer

Waiting Period

Nevada does not have a waiting period to purchase a firearm.

Who May Not Own

A person shall not own or possess any firearm if the person:

  • Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • Has been convicted of a felony
  • Has been convicted of stalking
  • Is currently subject to an extended order for protection against domestic violence
  • Is currently subject to a firearms prohibition under a protection order against high-risk behavior
  • Is a fugitive from justice
  • Is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance;
  • Commits a controlled substance offense while possessing a firearm
  • Is intoxicated (except at personal residence for self-defense)
  • Is otherwise prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm
  • Has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility by a court
  • Has entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill
  • Has been found guilty but mentally ill
  • Has been acquitted by reason of insanity
  • Is illegally in the United States

License Required?

No license is required to purchase or own firearms in Nevada.

Concealed Carry License Required?

Yes. In Nevada, a person must have a concealed carry permit and must carry the permit and identification to carry a concealed firearm legally.

Open Carried Allowed?

Nevada does not prohibit open carry.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

A sheriff shall issue a concealed carry permit to an applicant who:

  • Is 21 years old or older or who is at least 18 years old and a member of, or honorably discharged from, the military, military reserve, or National Guard;
  • Is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under Nevada law; and
  • Demonstrates competence with handguns by presenting a certificate that shows successful completion of an approved firearm safety course

The sheriff shall deny an application or revoke a permit if the applicant or permittee

  • Has an outstanding arrest warrant
  • Has been judicially declared incompetent or insane
  • Has been voluntarily or involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility in the last five years
  • Has habitually used intoxicating liquor or a controlled substance to the extent that normal faculties are impaired
  • Has been convicted of a crime involving the use or threatened use of force or violence punishable as a misdemeanor in the last three 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, injunction, or other order for protection against domestic violence
  • Is currently subject to an ex parte or extended order for protection against high-risk behavior (red flag law)
  • Is currently on parole or probation from a conviction
  • Has, within the last five years, had an entry of judgment for a conviction of a felony withheld or a suspended sentence for the conviction of a felony
  • Has made a false statement on any application for a permit or for the renewal of a permit
  • Has been discharged or released from the military under conditions other than honorable conditions and is less than 21 years of age

Machine Gun Laws

Nevada prohibits owning or possessing a machine gun unless the machine gun is authorized by federal law.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

  • Illegal possession of a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or a defaced firearm is a category D felony, punishable by one to four years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
  • Illegal possession of a machine gun or silencer or carrying a concealed firearm without a firearm permit are category C felonies, punishable by one to five years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
  • Under most circumstances, a person who possesses a firearm when prohibited by Nevada or federal law will be a category B felony, punishable by one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Prohibitions related to mental health issues or illegal presence in the U.S. will be a category D felony.
  • Sale, transfer, or disposal of a firearm or ammunition to a prohibited person is a Category B felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Illegal sale of a firearm to a minor is also a Category B felony, but the possible penalty is one to six years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
  • A minor child who uses or possesses a firearm unlawfully commits a delinquent act equivalent to a felony. An adult who permits a minor child to unlawfully use or possess a firearm commits a misdemeanor on a first offense or a Category C felony on a first offense if they know it is likely the child will commit a violent act. A second offense rises to a Category B felony.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

Possessing a pistol, revolver, or another firearm on school property is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.

Red Flag Law?

Yes. Nevada law allows a court to issue a protection order against high-risk behavior. Police or family members can petition the court when they believe that a person presents a credible threat to harm self or others if they have access to firearms.

Universal Background Checks?

Yes. Nevada law requires both licensed dealers and private individuals to obtain a criminal background check when they sell or transfer a firearm, with very limited exceptions.

Stand Your Ground Law?

Yes. A person is not required to retreat before using deadly force to repel an attack in circumstances where such force is approved by law as long as the person was not the initial aggressor, is in a place they have a right to be, and is not engaged in criminal conduct.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that including federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the status of any state law(s) you are reviewing.

Research the Law

Facing Gun Crime Charges in Nevada?

Keeping up with gun laws at the state and federal levels can be challenging. The laws related to carrying a firearm may differ between Nevada and neighboring states like Utah, Arizona, and California. If you face state or federal gun charges, you need legal advice to defend yourself. Consider talking with an experienced Nevada criminal defense attorney. Find a professional who can help through our lawyer directory.

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