Las Vegas Sun

March 4, 2024

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With GOP-led Legislature, gun-loving Nevada could have even looser firearm rules

A Day with Michele Fiore

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Michelle Fiore wears a handgun pendant while taking part in Alan Stock’s radio program May 8, 2014.

Well before Republicans fired off a volley of legislation this year to weaken Nevada’s weapon laws, this gun-loving state already had a reputation for its loose firearm restrictions.

And now, the recent GOP takeover of the Legislature has sparked life into more than 10 measures that could make it even easier for Nevadans to own, carry and shoot guns.

“Most of those bills have been there before, but they’ve just never gotten out of committee,” UNLV political science professor David Damore said. “The Democrats really laid down for about a decade on this issue, but now you have a Republican majority.”

An analysis by the recreation magazine Guns & Ammo ranked Nevada last year as the 22nd best state in the union for gun owners — that is, the Silver State has relatively few restrictions on firearms. If Republican lawmakers have their way, Nevada — which trailed behind Texas on the list by eight other states — could move even higher. For comparison, Arizona placed first, while Washington, D.C., scored last.

“It’s definitely a more favorable climate for Second Amendment rights,” said Megan Bedera, a Nevada Firearms Coalition lobbyist. “There have been some common sense reforms for numerous legislative sessions, and under the previous leadership they haven’t always been a priority.”

Pro-gun lawmakers will be scrambling today to meet the Legislature's first major deadline, which requires bills to pass a committee from the house in which they originated. Here’s a look at five big gun measures to watch as the session moves forward:

Assembly Bill 148: Campus carry

Arguably the session’s most contentious gun bill, Assembly Bill 148 would let concealed weapon permit holders bring their guns onto college campuses.

Assembly members voted 24-15 to approve the measure on Monday, and now it’s on its way to the state Senate.

Sponsored by Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, it also lets people store firearms in locked cars in the parking lots of K-12 schools and colleges. It was amended to remove language allowing concealed guns on the grounds of K-12 schools, daycare centers and parts of airports.

The proposal has been heavily criticized by the Nevada System of Higher Education and colleges that say they don’t want guns on campus.

“Schools should be sacred places where you don’t have to worry about a gun being around,” said Annette Magnus, executive director of the liberal advocacy group ProgressNow Nevada, which has been lobbying heavily against pro-gun legislation. “I’m a gun owner myself and I believe in the Second Amendment, but I believe there are some places where guns should not be present.”

A similar bill sponsored by Assemblyman John Hambrick resembles the portion of AB148 allowing guns inside locked cars at parking lots in schools, including the scrapped portion affecting child care facilities. Assembly Bill 2 drew a heated, 90-minute debate when it was first introduced last month in Carson City. But by now that bill and others like it have been overshadowed by Fiore’s bill.

Senate Bill 175: Domestic violence prevention, “Stand Your Ground” expansions

Sponsored by Republican Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, Senate Bill 175 is a wide-ranging measure that would expand the definition of justifiable homicide to include incidents that occur in occupied vehicles. It also limits firearm access to people convicted of domestic abuse crimes.

The state Senate passed the bill on March 23.

Critics say the bill aims to expand the state’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws, which allow deadly force against people who threaten to kill or seriously harm someone else, while proponents say the language merely aims to clarify existing state law.

Roberson's bill also includes provisions that would further shield shooters in justifiable homicides from lawsuits. Another bill sponsored by Republican Assemblywoman Shelly Shelton has similar language.

The bill would also change the law to allow more out-of-state concealed gun permit owners to legally carry in Nevada. The state currently recognizes concealed carry permits from 14 other states, after officials determined their standards for permit-holders are equally or more stringent than those in Nevada.

Several other bills in the Legislature aim to increase reciprocity, including AB139 and SB171.

Senate Bill 143: Repealing concealed carry licenses

Republican Sen. Republican Sen. Don Gustavson is leading a group of Republican legislators that want to repeal Nevada’s concealed gun permit law.

Senate Bill 143 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, but legislators haven’t taken any action on it.

The bill seeks to make Nevada the sixth state to approve laws allowing for open and concealed carry of firearms without a permit. Nevada already allows open carry of a gun without a permit.

Assembly Bill 127: No registration in Clark County

Speaker Hambrick has introduced a bill that would do away with Clark County’s handgun registration ordinance. It’s the only county in Nevada with such a requirement.

Assembly Bill 127 would reserve the right to regulate firearms to the Legislature.

No action has been taken on the bill since its Feb. 6 introduction.

Assembly Bill 167: Foster parent gun holders

Another bill sponsored by Fiore would allow people who carry loaded weapons to serve as foster parents.

The bill would allow Nevadans with concealed-weapons permits, and law enforcement officers, to carry loaded weapons on their person in a home or car and still be eligible to be foster parents. If not carried on their person, the weapons would be required to be kept in a secure safe, but they could remain loaded.

The bill won approval in the Assembly on March 23.

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