By Ryan Tarinelli
CARSON CITY — Advocates on both sides of the gun debate showed up in force Monday as Nevada lawmakers considered a gun bill to ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass stricter firearm laws than those imposed by the state.
The bill was brought by Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, a Democrat who escaped the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival in which a gunman used bump stocks to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Bump stocks are used to mimic the firing pace of an automatic weapon.
Jauregui recalled her memories of the shooting and said the night has likely changed her forever. Other survivors of the 2017 shooting joined her in arguing for the legislation.
She said no matter how hard it is to share her story she “will do it as many times as it takes to help prevent any person or family from having to share my experience.”
The hearing was one of the largest gun debates at the Legislature this session. Lawmakers previously passed a bill that expanded background checks for private gun sales and transfers and it was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
Chelsea Parsons with Center for American Progress, a policy group that supports stricter gun laws, told lawmakers that passing the bill heard Monday would allow local governments to protect public safety when state-level gun laws are not seen as tough enough.
Public safety needs vary widely in localities across Nevada, she argued, and the power for local governments to act is needed because the Legislature only meets every two years.
A nationwide ban on bump stocks went into effect last week, but Parsons said the Nevada bill is slightly broader than the federal regulation in order to anticipate “future innovation by the gun industry” and to cover other devices designed to approximate the gunfire rates of machine guns.
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 argued that allowing local governments to enact their own gun laws would lead to a complex patchwork of local laws, adversely affecting gun owners.
Responsible gun owners could break different laws just by driving around with guns in their vehicles, said Don Turner, president of the Nevada Firearms Coalition, who called the part of the bill giving local government more control “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.
Legislators on Monday are were expected to consider another measure that would make it a misdemeanor offense to negligently store firearms a “substantial risk” exists that children could get ahold of them.