Here Are Nevada’s Gun Laws That Made Yesterday’s Mass Shooting Possible
Questions have been raised about how mass murderer Stephen Paddock was able to bring an arsenal of at least ten guns and military-style assault weapons, ammunition and related equipment, into his room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
The simple answer is in Nevada, his armor laden luggage was perfectly legal.
While gun violence can occur anywhere, it is not a complete surprise that the worst civilian massacre in U.S. history took place in Nevada where gun laws range from lax to non-existent.
Only four months ago, there was a chance to change that, at least a little bit, when the state legislature, controlled by Democrats, passed a law to mandate registration of gun owners for the first time.
The bill had been introduced by Democrats in the wake of the murder of 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and passed by a narrow margin.
Parents of Sandy Hook victims attended a hearing on the bill in Carson City, the capital of Nevada, as did people who had been present when Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in Arizona by a lone gunman.
There were intense lobbying campaigns for both sides. Michael Bloomberg’s group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, worked for passage and ran some ads, but they were overwhelmed by the National Rifle Association.
The NRA not only ran ads but also asked members to contact Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and demand he veto the legislation. They responded by the thousands, churning out three times as many calls for a veto for each one seeking a signature to sign it into law.
Sandoval agreed in advance to veto the bill, which he did in June. He gave as his reason that “background checks for the private sale and transfer of firearms constitute an erosion of Nevadans’ Second Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.”
That veto wasn’t a huge surprise. Only weeks earlier, Sandoval had signed a gun bill into law, that made it quite easy to carry concealed weapons in the state.
It was already legal to openly carry a weapon – without any permit. And in Nevada, there is no mandatory waiting period before you can acquire a purchased gun.
The local police were obligated to give a permit to anyone who asked, as long as they took an eight-hour course on gun safety first.
Local governments are not allowed to pass any gun laws or regulate unsafe guns.
There is no law or registration to stop anyone from selling any kind of ammunition and no requirement that the seller maintains any kind of records about the buyers.
It went right along with a state that is still very much in the wild west in terms of guns. Consider some of the other things Nevada allows, according to Newsweek:
Nevada law does not require firearms owners to have licensed or register their weapons, nor does it limit the number of firearms individual posses.
Automatic assault weapons and machine guns are also legal in the state and there is no prohibition on the transfer or possession of assault weapons, 50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Paddock used one of those military-style assault weapons to kill his victims. Those same guns were banned by the federal government under a law passed and signed in the 1990s by President Bill Clinton, but Republicans under George W. Bush let it expire in 2004.
It is against the law to sell ammunition to a person if the seller has “actual knowledge” that the person is under indictment or has been convicted of a felony, is a fugitive from justice, or a court has ruled that person as being mentally ill.
Even that, however, is a joke.
Brian Fadie, of ProgesssNevada, was highly critical of Sandoval when he vetoed the registration law, noting it was supported by the several police departments, including the Metropolitan Police Department in Las Vegas.
“With this veto, Sandoval has kept it legal for criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill to easily and legally buy as many guns as they want with no background check,” Fadie told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in June.
“Think about that,” added Fadie. “Right now in Nevada someone convicted of robbery or assault with a deadly weapon can go to a gun show and buy as many guns as they want from an unlicensed dealer.”
Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said in disgust:
“The state legislature and 86 percent of Nevadans support comprehensive background checks, but this veto means that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill will continue to get a free pass in Nevada.”
Nevada is not the only state with lax laws, and the NRA supporters will point out in states with strong laws like California and Illinois, there is still lots of gun violence.
However, pointing out guns are used to kill people all too often in America only signals why there needs to be strong federal legislation.
There has to be uniform laws so someone from Chicago cannot simply cross state lines a few miles away and load up on an arsenal of deadly weapons, which are then used on the streets of Chicago. Or someone in California cannot take a short car ride to Nevada and buy the kind of assault weapons no hunter would ever need, and huge ammo magazines that are not needed to stop a burglar robbing a home.
These kind of weapons are for mass murder, just the kind Paddock committed, and if it is up to Republicans in Congress, it will be even easier in the future for other madmen or madwomen to acquire similar weapons and carry out even more violence.
They even want it to be legal for the next Sandoval to use a silencer so it will be much more difficult for victims to escape or police to pursue him.
Since many polls show Americans overwhelmingly favor sensible gun reform – and especially registration and limits on assault weapons and the size of ammo magazines – then this is just about money.
The people that the NRA represents, among others, make huge amounts of money off of guns, and have no regard for the fact they can be used improperly and in the most deadly way.
With such lax gun rules, life in Nevada is a daily gamble.