UPDATE, Wednesday, May 17, 11:56 a.m.
Gov. Joe Lombardo announced Wednesday that he has vetoed Senate Bill 171, Assembly Bill 354 and AB355, which arrived to his desk Monday, following votes in the Senate and Assembly on party lines.
“I will not support legislation that infringes on the constitutional rights of Nevadans,” Lombardo said in an emailed statement.
Nevada’s Democrat-controlled Legislature passed a trio of gun control bills Monday, sending them to Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo’s desk, where they face questionable futures.
Lombardo’s office has not commented on the gun bills, nor on many other wide-ranging proposals that are running through the Legislature in the final stretch of its session.
One bill would raise the eligible age to possess semiautomatic shotguns and assault weapons from 18 to 21. Another would bar possession of a gun within 100 yards of an election site entrance with narrow exceptions, while also solidifying language meant to ban homemade “ghost guns.” A third bill would prohibit owning a firearm within a decade of a gross misdemeanor or felony hate crime conviction.
Lombardo, the former Clark County sheriff, has previously bucked other Republicans by supporting universal background checks, but he still positions himself as firmly pro-Second Amendment while touting his NRA membership.
He previously vowed to veto any legislation curtailing ghost gun access while on the campaign trail, meaning the measure banning them has little chance for signature.
All three bills were subject to contentious hearings filled with personal stories about the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, a rise in mass shootings nationwide and allegations from Republican legislators about unfair testimony and rushed committee votes.
Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Sandra Jauregui, who sponsored two of the bills, previously said the package would “protect second graders and the Second Amendment at the same time.” She noted that 21 is already the eligible age to own a handgun in Nevada.
Jauregui was among the 22,000 concertgoers who in October 2017 fled 10 minutes of gunfire raining into a country music festival crowd from a high-rise hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. The attack killed 60 people and injured hundreds more.
The NRA, the Nevada Republican Party and several gun owners who testified in opposition have called the bills unconstitutional and discriminatory. Some said taking away guns, particularly in public areas where elections are held, could make those areas more dangerous, particularly with drop boxes in heavily-populated areas with other establishments.
Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.
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