Rampage prompts call for Nevada gun law review
RENO, Nev. (AP) – A deadly shooting rampage at a Carson City IHOP restaurant last month has prompted a call for a review of Nevada’s gun laws.
Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman William Horne said it would be appropriate for lawmakers to consider changes to the state’s gun regulations after a man with a history of mental illness shot 11 people with an assault weapon at the restaurant, killing three Nevada National Guard members and a civilian before killing himself.
Horne, D-Las Vegas, told a Reno newspaper that while he’s a gun owner who supports gun rights, he questions why citizens need to own an assault weapon.
“I think it’s a good question to ask: Why does a typical citizen need to have an assault weapon?” he said. “I think we’re at the point where we have to have that discussion. Can we protect citizens without impacting other people’s rights?”
National Guard Sgt. Caitlin Kelley, who was seriously injured by Eduardo Sencion in the Sept. 6 rampage, said the mass shooting has made her furious about gun laws.
“I can’t imagine why we are even selling assault rifles to civilians,” said Kelley, who now must use a wheelchair after being shot in the foot. “There’s no reason for an AK-47 or an M-16 or an M-4 to be in a civilian’s home.”
Sencion’s AK-47-style firearm was illegally modified to fire as an automatic weapon.
Seven states have assault weapons bans: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Virginia.
Robert Smith, president of the Nevada State Rifle and Pistol Association, said the problem is not guns; it’s the people using them.
“It isn’t the weapon that’s bad, it’s the person” who commits crimes with the weapon, he told the Gazette-Journal. “If you keep them away from private citizens, you’re making the private citizens unarmed targets.”
Trying to make policy based on emotion – such as the response to the IHOP shooting – isn’t good policy, said Carolyn Herbertson, a Sacramento, Calif.-based National Rifle Association lobbyist who’s registered to lobby at the Nevada Legislature. The NRA has three paid lobbyists in Nevada.
“My job is to represent reason, and I take that very seriously,” she said. “We represent reason to what often becomes an emotional issue.”
Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley said while he doesn’t see “any logic” to making assault weapons available to the public, a ban on such weapons would spark a sharp response by gun-rights advocates.
Haley noted IHOP customers were helpless to defend themselves against Sencion’s assault weapon.
“But because of our love affair with weapons, we are subjecting the public to this type of violence,” the sheriff told the newspaper. “If this is going to change, the public has to stand up and demand change.”
Despite being diagnosed as schizophrenic, Sencion legally purchased the weapon from a private seller in California. He also legally owned several other guns.