Police Say Shooting BB Guns in City Limits is Illegal

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After two incidences involving BB guns within a day, police departments in the tri-cities say discharging BB guns within city limits is illegal.

Sunday evening, campus police at UNL found a BB gun closely resembling a gun.

Later that evening in Grand Island, police responded to a call regarding two young boys injured from BB guns.

To the eye, they look just like regular guns, despite manufacturing efforts to add an orange tip. Police even use them to train with.

"We have face shields to protect the eyes, the nose, the throat, and those types of things there. We take those extra safety precautions," said Captain Dean Elliot with the Grand Island Police Department.

BB guns, air soft guns and pellet guns are not considered firearms on the state and national level, but they're still dangerous and, in many cities, must be secured.

"If you get shot with an air soft gun, it may leave a small red mark on the skin from a distance. You may feel it. You may not feel it from an even greater distance. Up close, it can cause soft tissue damage," said Capt. Elliot.

In each of the tri-cities, they cannot be used or count as a concealed weapon.

"You can have BB guns. You can have pellet guns, but you cannot discharge them within the city limits. It's a violation of city ordinance," said Sergeant Steven Murphy with the Hastings Police Department.

"City Code does - it's unlawful for any person, except for a law enforcement officer in the course of his duty, to discharge a firearm, gun, pistol, firearm, cannon, air rifle, slingshot or any other item designed for the discharge of bullets, missiles, rocks or other dangerous items within the city," said Capt. Elliot.

"Any type of pellet gun, air soft gun that shoots some sort of projectile through air is unlawful to shoot within city limits," said Captain Michael Kirkwood of the Kearney Police Department.

GI police are notified of a gun's discharge, a citation is issued. However, any injury from the gun can result in an arrest.

"They would be arrested for assault at that point in time. We've had that in the past and have arrested people for assault using a pellet gun, shooting someone with a BB gun or pellet gun," said Capt. Kirkwood.

Police say, though, BB guns can be used properly.

"There's appropriate places to use a BB gun or pellet gun, and a lot of those are outside the city limits at a range," said Capt. Kirkwood.

"It just goes back to the firearm safety rules. Always treat a weapon like it's loaded, never point it at anybody because it could go off. It could injure them," said Sgt. Murphy.

Policies at UNL, UNO and UNK say no weapons are allowed on campus. However, there are exceptions to athletic teams, law enforcement and those authorized to have hunting type equipment.