Nevada officials deny assemblyman's rifle purchase

RENO -A troubled Nevada assemblyman who has been barred from the Legislature after allegedly threatening some colleagues won't be able to buy a gun for at least a year, and authorities said Monday they remain on heightened alert and continue to monitor him closely.

The Nevada Department of Public Safety on Monday formally denied Assemblyman Steven Brooks' purchase of a rifle based on the background check forms he filed at a Sparks sporting goods store on Thursday.

"He was denied for the period of one year. The specifics are confidential," Patrick Conmay, chief of the department's division of records and technology, told The Associated Press.

Michael Postin, Brooks' lawyer, said Brooks would fight any attempt to keep him from returning to the Legislature after his current leave of absence - a matter a legislative panel intends to address in the coming days or weeks. He said on Monday Brooks was just "browsing" in the store and didn't pay the $25 fee he thought was necessary to formally initiate the background check.

"I don't think that was really a big priority of his to purchase this gun or rifle or whatever it was in the first place," Postin told AP on Monday. "I think he was just doing some shopping in a sporting goods store and suddenly it became a big news item."

Brooks was banished from the Legislative Building after two recent arrests, including one on Jan. 19 involving allegations he threatened Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick over his committee assignments. According to police, he had a gun in his car and dozens of rounds of ammunition.

Days after posting bail, he was detained and hospitalized for a mental evaluation after a disturbance at his grandmother's house involving a sword. On Feb. 10, he was arrested on suspicion of attacking his estranged wife in Las Vegas, then grabbing for an officer's gun as he was taken into custody.

Edie Cartwright, spokeswoman for the Nevada Attorney General's Office, said the agency still was awaiting the results of an investigation being conducted by the North Las Vegas Police Department.

North Las Vegas Police Sgt. Bedell said his force is working closely with the AG's office but didn't know when the investigation would be complete, depending on additional information sought by state prosecutors. But he said Monday that just because Brooks had failed a background check and denied purchase of a firearm "doesn't meant we don't worry about him being armed."

"I'm not saying we believe Mr. Brooks will break the law. But we have to assume that should he want to get a gun, he can find a way to get one," Bedell told AP. "A general rule for us is that, regardless of what the law is, if a person wants a firearm they could get one."

Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said law officers would have been powerless to keep Brooks from buying a firearm if he had cleared the background check and that he too remains concerned about Brooks.

"We are keeping very, very close contact with this. We stressed it at our morning briefing," he said Monday.

"We are on pins and needles about when this (legislative hearing) is going to take place at the Legislative Building as to whether or not they are going to let him back in. We are monitoring his status," Furlong said. "That's why I laugh - law enforcement is protecting legislators from legislators."


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