Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2018

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Delay in Nevada gun buyer law draws protests outside court hearing

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Yvonne Gonzalez / Las Vegas Sun

Activists speak out in favor of gun background check law on Feb. 23, 2018, outside the Clark County Regional Justice Center. The law has gone unenforced and is now the subject of a lawsuit seeking to compel the state to implement the measure.

A Nevada assemblywoman who survived the Oct. 1 shooting joined a group of activists outside a courthouse Friday before a hearing in a lawsuit over Nevada’s unenforced gun background check law.

Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui said she thought fireworks were going off when the shooting started at a country music concert on the Strip.

“A group of my friends who we went with, people I’ve known for years, hit the ground, and I started noticing other people around us hit the ground,” she said. “And then when my husband came back and realized it was gunfire, we hit the ground and he jumped on top of me.”

A total of 58 people were killed and more than 800 were injured when a gunman opened fire on the crowd from the 32nd floor of a hotel tower.

Jauregui was joined by former law enforcement and gun control activists. They say background checks reduce gun deaths, and the state needs to find a way to implement the law approved by voters.

The lawsuit against Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt seeks to compel the governor to implement the law, affirm the law or nix provisions that cannot be enforced, so the initiative’s main goal of universal background checks can be effective.

Laxalt’s office has said that the law requires the checks to be conducted by the FBI and cannot be enforced without the agency’s cooperation. The FBI balked at Nevada’s attempt to dictate the use of federal resources. In a statement Friday, the Attorney General’s Office said any frustration should be directed at the drafters of the flawed law.

“We stand by our opinion that the drafters of the initiative erred by assuming that the FBI would be willing to run the background checks required by Nevada’s initiative,” the Attorney General’s Office said in its statement.

Clark County District Judge Joe Hardy Jr. made no immediate ruling after more than 90 minutes of arguments.