Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016 | 2 a.m.
By overwhelmingly supporting universal background checks for firearms purchases, Clark County voters made it abundantly clear last month that they were concerned about gun violence.
Now, it’s time for Las Vegas-area lawmakers to go a step further to protect Nevadans and push to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines in the state.
Eight states and the District of Columbia already have imposed such prohibitions, and with good reason. There’s simply no legitimate civilian use for magazines that hold dozens upon dozens of rounds of ammunition.
Don’t believe us? Fine, then listen to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
“I’m a very avid hunter, I was in the military myself, and there’s no need to have a high-capacity magazine for any practical reason,” Lombardo said during a recent interview with the Sun.
To the contrary, the dangers posed by such magazines are obvious. Lombardo says the time it takes for suspects to change magazines gives potential victims an opportunity to escape and law enforcement officials an opportunity to safely fire back. That being the case, the fewer times a shooter has to switch out magazines, the fewer the chances for people to get away and authorities to get a protected shot.
It’s also not uncommon for guns to jam during magazine change-outs, Lombardo says.
That being the case, a ban on sales makes sense.
Of course, the NRA crowd will howl at this suggestion like the Constitution is being set on fire. We can practically hear them now: It will make law-abiding, responsible gun owners less able to protect themselves and their property! It’s a step toward the government disarming citizens!
Neither of those arguments makes any sense. Unless we missed the news that the nation is being ravaged by literal armies of burglars, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which someone would need a 100-round magazine to protect their home from intruders.
And as far as disarming the American people, this isn’t a call for a ban on all magazines or semi-automatic weapons. The states that have imposed restrictions still allow for 10- or 15-round versions, which would be an acceptable model for Nevada.
Plus, the argument that a firepower restriction makes Americans more vulnerable to a governmental takeover may have been logical in the days of single-shot muskets, but what level would make people feel safe enough today? Allowing them to have machine guns? Tanks? Their own squadron of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters? Because the government has all those things, you know.
So let’s allow rational thinking to prevail when it comes to high-capacity magazines. Restricting sales could help protect people in tragic shootings — potential victims and the responding authorities. And given that there’s no practical use for the magazines, there’s not a downside.
The Clark County Democrats who were swept back into control of the Legislature during last month’s election should feel emboldened to take action on the issue during the 2017 session, given that the background check initiative passed by more than 100,000 votes in Clark County.
No doubt, there will be resistance among the rural legislative representatives, given that the ballot measure failed in every county but Clark County. But it’s worth the fight. With Metro saying a rise in gun violence has helped raise the murder rate in 2016 to its highest level in 20 years, residents in the Las Vegas Valley have every reason to support reasonable restrictions on firearms.