Nevada lawmakers weigh bump stock, local gun law bills
Nevada lawmakers on Monday began a hearing on a gun bill that seeks to ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass their own gun laws.
Pro-gun rights groups said they are concerned Democrats will expedite passage of the measure like they did with a gun background check bill earlier this legislative session.
The background check bill, which expanded gun background checks to private gun sales and transfers, was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak days after it received a committee hearing.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, a Democrat, said that process is not the intent with the gun measure scheduled to be heard before a joint meeting of a Senate and Assembly committee.
“We are at a point in session where we have a lot of bills to process all at once, and sometimes a joint hearing is a good way to do that so we can actually have the time dedicated to have a real discussion about what is good policy and what is bad policy,” she said.
The bump stock bill is sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, who survived a 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival and previously testified in support of the gun background check legislation. Bump stocks were used by the shooter in the 2017 massacre to mimic the firing pace of an automatic weapon.
In an emotional speech to legislators, Jauregui recalled her memories of the shooting and said the legislation is not an anti-gun bill. The Democrat said she is bringing the bill because she wants to make sure that no one must face a mass shooting again.
Chelsea Parsons with Center for American Progress, a policy group that supports stricter gun laws, told lawmakers that changing the law would allow local governments to protect public safety when state-level gun laws are not seen as strict enough. The power for local governments to do so is also needed because the Nevada Legislature only meets every two years, she said.
She said recordings of the 2017 shooting made it clear that bump stock bans are needed.
Gun rights groups have argued the bill’s language is vague and would criminalize a wide array of smaller firearm modifications that have nothing to do with bump stocks, such as adjusting the trigger pull on a firearm.
“It’s a drastic policy change,” said Daniel Reid, a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association. “This would prohibit many common firearm modifications that are done by law-abiding Nevadans.”
The groups also level stark opposition to a part of the bill that would allow local governments to enact their own gun laws, arguing it will lead to a complex patchwork of city laws that will snarl responsible gun owners.
The legislation removes state law that gives the Nevada Legislature the exclusive domain of regulating the transfer, sale, registration and licensing of firearms, among other topics.
Don Turner, president of the Nevada Firearms Coalition, described that change as “totally unacceptable.”
If a variety of local-level ordinances are put in place, he argued, responsible gun owners could break different laws just by driving around.