New Jersey and other jurisdictions make little or no distinction between BB guns and real guns, making users run the risk of being charged with felonies. The popular children’s toys must be registered and are subject to the same laws as many firearms, FoxNews.com reports.
“In all honestly, kids who are charged are looking at mandatory jail time,” New Jersey attorney William Proetta said. Under the state’s Graves Act, the conviction could lead to jail time.
In Virginia, BB guns are considered to be firearms if used during criminal conduct.
However, New Jersey takes the cake when it comes to heavy regulation on the toy guns, according to Proetta.
“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,” he said.
The state’s Graves Act gun law includes possession of a BB gun in the same category as using firearms to commit crimes. Charges can include a minimum of three years in prison and fines.
Idryss Thomas, 22, was arrested in Glassboro, N.J. in October after neighbors repeatedly called 911 to report seeing a man with a gun. Thomas was jailed and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. That weapon turned out to be a BB gun he was using to shoot at a rubber duck as target practice in his own backyard.
Both accidents and crimes involving BB guns have made the news around the country as recently as this week.
Two teens were charged on felony criminal mischief after police say they show at multiple car windows with BB guns, in Amarillo, Texas, while a four-year-old Florida boy remains in critical condition after his cousin accidentally shot him in the chest with a BB gun Saturday, according to WJHG-TV. Officials said they will not be filing any charges in the Florida case.
Joe Murfin, spokesperson for the BB gun company Daisy, told Fox News.com the company disagrees with the strict regulations but does work to uphold the law.
“In our opinion and the federal government’s, our products are not firearms as there is no combustion in the chamber,” Murfin said. “While we disagree, we respect a state’s law for whatever reason they may have one.”
Sources: FoxNews.com, WJHG-TV, Amarillo.com