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Can You Carry a BB Gun in Your Car? | What You Should Know

Whether you can carry a BB gun in your car varies state by state. Some states consider it an air gun, some regulate air guns more heavily, and some believe a BB gun is a firearm. You’ll need to find out how your state classifies a BB gun to determine if you can legally carry it in your car.

In this article, I’ll delve into the legality of carrying a BB gun in your vehicle and the best way to carry one. I’ll also share some resources to help you stay apprised of the ever-changing gun laws and applications for states.  

Can You Legally Carry a BB Gun in Your Car?

The answer to this question lies in how the state defines a BB gun. According to several Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, one of several form exemptions is an air gun, provided it is not a firearm as defined by title 18 of the US Code.  

You can legally carry a BB gun in your car if your state doesn’t classify a BB gun as a firearm. However, several states classify air guns as firearms, which subjects them to the exact legal requirements of any other firearm.  

States That Regulate BB Guns

Some states consider BB guns and other air-powered guns to be similar to toy guns and exempt from the regulations that apply to powder weapons. However, others take a more restrictive approach and regulate air-powered guns, toy guns, and in some cases, both.  

The rationale is to prevent unnecessary injuries from air-powered weapons, which can still move a projectile at speeds that can be damaging, if not destructive. Concerning toy guns, the rationale behind regulating toy guns is to effectively help reduce fatal incidents by law enforcement who employ lethal force, not knowing the gun a citizen holds is not a live firearm.  

Having said that, there are some states where you can legally carry a BB gun in your car.  

Below you will find a table of states that regulate BB guns in some form:

StateBB Gun Regulated Allowed in Vehicle
District of ColumbiaX**
New HampshireXX
New JerseyXX**
New YorkXX*
North CarolinaXX
North DakotaXX**
South DakotaXX
* additional regulations apply in certain parts of the state
** additional restrictions exist on air-powered guns

Federal, state, and local laws are constantly changing, so be mindful of updates and adjustments to legislation in your state or area. It’s best to always check your state’s current gun control laws. It’s essential to check your state laws, even if your state isn’t listed above, since gun laws can change frequently.  

Related What Is the Difference Between a BB Gun and a Pellet Gun?

What’s the Best Way To Carry a BB Gun in Your Car?

Many states allow a BB gun to be carried in a vehicle in some form or fashion. Some restrict possession and usage by age. In cases where you are allowed to possess a BB gun and have it in your vehicle, here is the best way to carry it.  

The best way to carry a BB gun in your car is secured in a case that can be locked. This is to remain in compliance with laws and ensure it can’t fall into the wrong hands. Ideally, the case indicates in some way that the firearm contained therein is an air-powered gun.  

Even if the BB gun has an orange indicator on the front of the barrel, it is best to have the BB gun secured in a case. This is because it is less conspicuous in your vehicle when stored in this way. If you are pulled over, police can’t confuse the BB gun for a powder-propelled firearm.  

Additionally, having it in a case makes it a bit more difficult for anyone you don’t want to handle the BB gun to pick it up and inadvertently fire it. Despite only being air-propelled, a BB can do considerable damage if it hits certain parts of the body or strikes at a very close range.  

Airsoft gun in a case with targets

Finally, a case can be stored under or behind a seat where it is less visible and doesn’t necessarily look like a firearm. The goal here is to keep the BB gun as inconspicuous as possible so that it’s available to you if you need it, but doesn’t become a target for kids, burglars, or law enforcement.  

Can You Use a BB Gun for Self-Defense?

Depending on your state gun laws, you may possess a BB gun, which is foundational to answering this question. Assuming it is legal to own a BB gun in your state, you may use a BB gun for self-defense.  

You can use a BB gun for self-defense, but a BB gun is a poor choice as a defensive weapon. Air-powered weapons have less power behind the projectile, which makes them less-than-lethal in most cases when used to defend themselves.  

Sometimes, a perfectly placed shot can do enough damage to deter an assailant. In rare circumstances, a perfectly placed shot can be fatal.  

Consider this: if someone is actively threatening you, is there a good chance they’re standing still? To take this thought further, if you brandish a BB gun, is there a good chance they will continue to stand still so you can perfectly place your shot to defend yourself?

Some states explicitly state that a BB gun should not be used for self-defense. In many cases, this is due to the belief that a BB gun is more dangerous to the person carrying it than anyone else. It’s also thought that brandishing a BB gun could escalate the situation to introducing a more powerful weapon.  

While a BB gun, in some cases, may be considered a legal weapon for self-defense, it is not the best option. It should be viewed as a possible deterrent, but it’s potentially a liability.

Related BB Guns for Self-Defense: A Practical Overview

Can You Bring a BB Gun to a Shooting Range?

You can bring a BB gun to a shooting range in most states. Generally speaking, there will be less concern with using an air-propelled firearm at an outdoor shooting range than at an indoor shooting range.  

As is always best practice, check your local and state laws to ensure it is okay. Most importantly, reach out to the shooting range and check whether they allow a BB gun to be discharged at the shooting range.  

People often erroneously believe that ranges on public land aren’t regulated, so shooting anything and everything at those ranges is acceptable. This isn’t always the case. It is best to look at the website of the land management agency to understand the regulations. In cases where they are absent or opaque, reach out to them directly and ask before you go.  


Purchasing, owning, carrying, and discharging a BB gun is not as straightforward as you might think. When in doubt, treat your BB gun the same way you could a powder-propelled firearm to err on the side of caution. Ask questions and research laws specific to your area to minimize the risk of inadvertently breaking the law. 

Additionally, you may be able to use your BBG for self-defense, but it’s not generally advised.

For more, check out How to Safely Store a Gun for Home Defense | Best Practices.