What good are gun laws if an ex-felon can buy an antique pistol and shoot two Douglas County deputies a few hours later?
That's apparently what happened in Stateline a week ago. It demonstrates how the nation's gun laws essentially are ineffective at keeping weapons out of the hands of people who are known to be dangerous to themselves and others.
We support the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms - as a guarantee of the Bill of Rights, as a tradition of independence and self-reliance in Nevada, and because there are legitimate reasons for owning a gun.
And even the most strident anti-gun control advocates would agree that convicted felons have given up their right to buy or possess guns. That much is beyond debate.
Nevertheless, 53-year-old Harvey Ex, on probation in Las Vegas for felony assault with a deadly weapon, apparently had little problem obtaining a .32-caliber gun and firing it five times, wounding two deputies, before he was killed by the officers.
Nevada Revised Statutes on guns are pretty straightforward:
NRS 202.360: It's illegal for a felon to possess a firearm.
NRS 202.362: It's illegal to give or sell a firearm to someone if you have "actual knowledge" he is a felon.
NRS 202.254: Anybody can ask the state to perform a background check before giving or selling a gun to somebody else. The state will tell you within five days if he can legally own one.
Therefore, it's a simple thing for honest, legitimate gun transactions to take place in Nevada. That's how most people conduct them.
If a felon like Ex wants to obtain a gun illegally, he probably can get one. But some common sense and responsibility would have kept this particular gun out of his hands and, perhaps, two deputies out of the hospital.