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July 21, 2017

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Fiore defends campus carry bill against NYC ‘anti-gun nuts’

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Cathleen Allison / AP

In this June 3, 2013, file photo, Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, works in committee during the final day of the 77th Legislative session at the Legislative Building in Carson City.

Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore squared off for the second time in three weeks against opponents of her controversial campus gun-carry bill, continuing the high-profile fracas over gun control in the Legislature.

Fiore is sponsoring a bill, AB 148, that would allow concealed carry permit holders to take guns on college campuses, K-12 schools and day care facilities.

The bill would add Nevada to a list of at least 11 states allowing campus carry and has sparked a political battle with Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group bankrolled by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Fiore, known for her outspoken Second Amendment advocacy, criticized Everytown this morning while testifying about her bill in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, calling the group’s members “anti-gun nuts from New York City.”

She is one of at least 13 state lawmakers nationwide supporting similar legislation.

Since 2013, Everytown has had an overwhelming presence in Nevada and recently funded a statewide newspaper and TV ad campaign against Fiore, calling her an extremist and asking people to speak out against her legislation.

The committee hearing today was a follow-up to last month’s meeting in which Fiore said her legislation would allow “young, hot little girls” on college campuses to shoot rapists if attacked.

The debate over carrying guns on campus has divided politicians and citizens in Nevada and raised questions about how schools can be safer.

Supporters and opponents of the bill jammed into a committee room today to express their views.

The testimony was emotionally charged on both sides and involved victims of violent crimes who were divided on the impact of guns at schools — places that have seen some of the nation’s most horrific mass shootings in recent years.

Fiore brought in John Lott, a nationally known gun-law expert and author of the book “More Guns, Less Crime.”

Democratic lawmakers peppered him with questions about the potential of a campus carry permit holder shooting an innocent bystander.

Lott said he’s found no examples of such instances in his nationwide research. He said permit holders are more law-abiding than police officers and nonpermit holders.

“The question is not how young people behave,” he said. “The question is about how permit holders behave.”

Amanda Collins, a rape survivor and concealed-carry advocate Fiore has long touted as an example for passing the law, also testified.

Collins gave a heartfelt account of her experience, saying she saw a police officer drive by while she was being attacked.

She chose not to carry her firearm on campus for fear of breaking the law. She said having her gun could have changed her life that night.

“How does rendering me defenseless protect me from a violent crime?” she asked lawmakers.

Catherine Cortez Masto, executive vice chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, opposed the bill on behalf of universities. The proposed law gives “predators an additional tool to prey on students,” she said.

University of Nevada, Reno, staff and students also have raised concerns about students carrying guns in classrooms, said Shannon Ellis, vice president of student services. “My staff are scared,” she said.

Members of Reno’s Women’s Shooting Academy testified in favor of the bill and applauded Fiore’s legislation.

Alisha Ketter, a shooting academy member, spoke alongside her young daughter.

She asked lawmakers not to be swayed by the emotional rhetoric from New York City and Michael Bloomberg.

“Nevada is not Everytown,” she said. “Nevada is battle born.”

A vote on the bill is not scheduled but is likely to take place in the Assembly Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks.

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