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Legal Information: Nevada

Nevada State Gun Laws

State Gun Laws

Below is information about state gun laws in Nevada. A restraining order or criminal conviction may make it illegal for an abuser to have a gun. However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply. To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

Please consider getting in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find help in your area, please go to the NV Places that Help page.

Basic Info and Definitions

What is the difference between federal and state gun laws?

In these gun laws pages, we refer to both "federal gun laws" and "state gun laws."  The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.

One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself.  Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws.  Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well.  You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.

If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws.  Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws.  If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor.  If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor).  For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?  If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.

I am a victim of domestic violence and the abuser has a gun. Is that legal?

It depends.  Under Nevada law, a person cannot own or have a gun in his/her possession if s/he:

  • has been convicted in Nevada or any other state of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (as defined in our Federal Gun Laws section);
  • has been convicted of a felony in Nevada or any other state;
  • has been convicted of a stalking in Nevada or any other state and the court entered an "admonishment of rights" (explained here), which prohibits the abuser from having or using a firearm;
  • has a Nevada extended order for protection against domestic violence  against him/her -- or a similar order from another state --  and the order includes a statement that the abuser is prohibited from having or using a firearm while the order is in effect; 
  • is a fugitive from justice; 
  • is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance;*
  • has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility; or
  • is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.**

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict a person's right to have a gun under certain circumstances such as when the abuser has been convicted of certain domestic violence-related crimes or if you have an order of protection against the abuser that meets certain requirements.  Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

* N.R.S. § 202.360(1)
** N.R.S. § 202.360(2)

What is the definition of a felony?

Throughout these gun law pages, we will refer to gun laws that make it illegal for someone convicted of a felony to have a gun. A felony is a crime that is punished more severely than a misdemeanor. A felony under Nevada state law is any crime that is punishable by death or by imprisonment in the state prison.* A felony is defined under federal law as a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.**

However, you cannot always tell if someone was convicted of a felony only by looking at the amount of time s/he actually served in prison since sentences are often reduced or pled down. If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a felony, you might want to talk to the prosecutor who handled the criminal case against the abuser to find out or go to the local criminal courthouse and try to search the records.

* N.R.S. § 193.120(2)
** 18 USC § 3559(a)

Guns and Protective Orders

I have a temporary order against the abuser. Can s/he have a gun?

Most likely, yes.  Under federal law, if the judge gave you an ex parte temporary order for protection (which means that no advance notice was given to the abuser), which is commonly done, it could still be legal for him/her to have a gun under federal law.  However, if the judge scheduled a court hearing and gave notice of the hearing to the abuser before giving you the temporary order for protection, it is possible that it is illegal for him/her to have a gun under federal law.  The order of protection must also meet certain other requirements, though.  Read I have a final order of protection against the abuser. Can his/her gun be taken away? to find out more (in our Federal Gun Laws section.)

I have an extended order for protection against the abuser. Can s/he keep a gun or buy a new gun?

It is a crime in Nevada for someone to have a firearm if there is a Nevada extended order for protection against domestic violence against him/her -- or a similar order from another state.  However, the order for protection must include a statement that the abuser is prohibited from having or using a firearm while the order is in effect.*  

When you get an extended order for protection, the judge can specifically prohibit gun possession as one of the terms of your order.  The judge can also order the abuser to give up all of his/her firearms within 24 hours of service (receipt) of the order.  The abuser can either give the firearms to law enforcement or sell/transfer them to a licensed firearm dealer.**  If the judge has "probable cause" to believe that the abuser has not surrendered, sold or transferred any of his/her firearms within 24 hours after service of the order, the judge can issue a search warrant that:

  1. allows law enforcement to enter and search any place where there is probable cause to believe any firearms are located; and
  2. seize (take) the firearms.***

In addition, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict an abuser's right to have a gun if you have a protective order against him/her that meets certain requirements even if the judge does not specifically include on the order that s/he cannot have a gun.  Go to the Federal Gun Laws page to get more information.

If you are afraid for your safety, talk to your local domestic violence program about your options.  Go to the NV Advocates and Shelters to find a program in your area.

* N.R.S. § 202.360(1)(d) 
** N.R.S. §§ 33.031(1); 33.033(1)
*** N.R.S. § 33.033(5) 

Is there anything I can do to make it more likely that the abuser's gun is taken away when I get an order for protection?

Here are a few things that may help:

  • If the abuser has a gun, tell the judge how many guns s/he has, and if s/he has ever threatened you with a gun(s);
  • Ask the judge to specifically write in your order for protection that the abuser cannot own, buy or have a gun while the order is in effect. The form that you will have to fill out to petition for an order for protection will have a place where you can request additional protections. You can ask that the abuser’s gun(s) be taken away in that section; and
  • Before leaving the courthouse, check to make sure that the gun restriction is written on your order.

It also may be helpful if the judge explains what will happen to the abuser's guns, who will take them, and where they will be held once you leave the courthouse. If the judge agrees to add language that the abuser cannot keep his/her guns while the order for protection is in effect, you may also want to ask that the judge:

  • Require the abuser to give his/her guns to the police, or require the police to go to the abuser's house and get them;
  • Make it clear to both you and the abuser how long the guns will be kept away from the abuser; and
  • Order that the police notify you when the guns are returned to the abuser.

Guns and Criminal Convictions

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

It depends.  Under Nevada law, a person cannot own or have a gun in his/her possession if s/he:

  • has been convicted in Nevada or any other state of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (as defined in our Federal Gun Laws section);
  • has been convicted of a felony in Nevada or any other state;
  • has been convicted of a stalking in Nevada or any other state and the court entered an "admonishment of rights" (explained here), which prohibits the abuser from having or using a firearm; or
  • is a fugitive from justice.*

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict a person's right to have a gun under certain circumstances such as when the abuser has been convicted of a felony or certain domestic violence-related crimes or if you have an order of protection against the abuser that meets certain requirements.  Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

* N.R.S. § 202.360(1)

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access.  If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Federal law specifically prohibits possession of a firearm if the person is convicted of any felony or of a domestic violence misdemeanor. Criminal records that would make a person ineligible to purchase a firearm are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS.  Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

The Abuser Isn’t Supposed to Have a Gun…Now What?

If the abuser's gun is taken away, what will happen to it?

In an extended order for protection, the judge can order that the abuser turn over to law enforcement or sell/transfer any firearms to a licensed firearm dealer - either must be done within 24 hours of service (receipt) of the order.* If there is probable cause to believe that the abuser has not surrendered, sold or transferred any firearm in his/her possession or control within 24 hours after service of the order, the judge can issue a search warrant authorizing a law enforcement officer to enter and search any place where there is probable cause to believe any firearm is located and seize (take) the firearm.** In general, when an order for protection expires, the firearm will be returned to the abuser. However, if the firearm is taken away due to it being used in a crime or if possession of the firearm violates the law, it will be disposed of by law enforcement.***

* N.R.S. §§ 33.031(1); 33.033(1)
** N.R.S. § 33.033(5)
*** See N.R.S. § 202.340

Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun?

If you think the abuser is violating state firearm laws, you can call your local police or sheriff department or the State Police.  If you think the abuser is violating federal firearm laws, you can call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our NV Sheriff Departments page.

You can find ATF field offices in Nevada on the ATF website.  For reporting illegal firearm activity, a person can also call 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867).  Many ATF offices have victim advocates on staff (called “victim/witness coordinators”) and so perhaps you may ask to speak one of these advocates if you are having a hard time connecting with (or receiving a call back from) an ATF officer.

A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials.  You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our NV Advocates and Shelters page.

Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for breaking the law.  If the abuser has or buys a gun in violation of the law, the abuser can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows that s/he was in violation of the law.*

* United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999)

What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Before purchasing a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used by federal firearms licensees (FFLs), such as firearms dealers or pawnbrokers, to instantly determine whether someone is eligible to receive (own, possess, transport) firearms or explosives.* If the abuser has a qualifying protection order against him/her, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor in any state, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from legally buying a gun. Not all states have automated record keeping systems, making it more difficult to process the criminal background check, and some criminals and abusers do slip through the system. Also, it is important to know that background checks are not required for private and online gun sales and so in those situations, the seller is not looking in the NICS.

If the abuser is able to purchase a gun and you believe that s/he should not be able to have one under the law, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away and perhaps the police will investigate. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him/her to have one.

* National Criminal Justice Reference Service website

More Information and Where to Get Help

If the abuser uses a gun for his/her job, can his/her gun be taken away?

It depends.  Even though as part of an extended order for protection, a judge can prohibit the abuser from possessing a gun, the law allows an exception for a respondent who is required to use a firearm as part of his/her employment.  The judge can allow the abuser to have a firearm in his/her possession if s/he proves that his/her employer requires him/her to use or possess a firearm as an essential part of the job.  However, the employer will have to provide for storage of the firearm during any period when the abuser is not working.*  Federal law, which applies to all states, also makes an exception for an abuser who is a law enforcement officer, military employee or government employee - s/he may still be able to continue to use a gun for work purposes (but not for personal use) even if you have an order for protection against him/her.** 

However, under both Nevada state law and under federal law, which applies to all states, if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, the abuser can never buy or have a gun, even if s/he is a police officer, a military employee, or anyone who uses a job as part of his/her employment.**

If you are confused or not sure whether the abuser can still use a gun for work purposes, you can talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area or call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111 ext. 2. To find a domestic violence advocate in your area, please go to our NV Advocates and Shelters page. 

* N.R.S. § 202.360(1),(2)
** N.R.S. § 33.031(3)
*** N.R.S. § 202.360(1); 18 USC § 925(a)(1)

What is the penalty for having a firearm in violation of the law?

A person who possesses a firearm and meets one of the following is guilty of a category B felony (and can be sent to prison for between 1 to 6 years and subject to a fine of up to $5,000) - if s/he:

  • has been convicted in Nevada or any other state of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (as defined in our Federal Gun Laws section);
  • has been convicted of a felony in Nevada or any other state;
  • is a fugitive from justice; or
  • is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance.*

A person who possesses a firearm and meets one of the following is guilty of a category D felony (and can be sent to prison for between 1 to 4 years and subject to a fine of up to $5,000) - if s/he:

  • has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility; or
  • is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.**

If someone possesses a firearm in violation of the terms of an order for protection, s/he is guilty of a gross misdemeanor and can be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.*** 

Note: Under federal law, anyone who owns, has or buys a gun in violation of the federal firearm law can be punished by a fine, jail time for up to 10 years, or both.****  For more information, see our Federal Gun Laws page.

However, as with any criminal case, although the law sets out a specific amount of jail/prison time, the actual sentence that the abuser gets may depend on many different factors.

* N.R.S. § 202.360(1)
** N.R.S. §§ 202.360(2); 193.130(2)(d)
*** N.R.S. §§ 33.031(4); 193.140
**** 18 USC § 924(a)(2)

I do not have an order for protection against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he have a gun?

It depends.  Under Nevada law, even if a person was not convicted of a crime and there is no current order for protection, a person cannot own or have in his/her possession if s/he:

  • is a fugitive from justice; 
  • is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance;*
  • has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility; or
  • is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.**

If one of these describes your situation, talk to someone in your area to find out how the law is being enforced.  If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety.  See our Staying Safe page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the NV Advocates and Shelters page.

For additional information on gun laws in Nevada, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.

* N.R.S. § 202.360(1)
** N.R.S. § 202.360(2)

I've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing.  There are people who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.  You can:

  • contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111 ext. 2;
  • contact us by writing to our Email Hotline;
  • contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.