Bills take shots at youths' rights


Some things one never forgets, like those special birthday gifts that keep on giving long after the cake and ice cream are gone and the celebration is over. For me, one of those gifts is the Marlin Model 60, a semi-automatic rifle my father gave me the day I turned 12.

Like most American boys at the time, I couldn’t wait to receive my first “real” rifle, one that made a bang each time I squeezed the trigger and a giant step up from the Daisy air rifle I had received two years earlier. Like a parent holding a newborn, I looked the rifle over thoroughly to make sure it had all the right parts. From the checkered stock to its tubular magazine and the four-power scope that came as part of the package, they all were there. Obviously I was excited to shoot my new rifle, but Dad wasn’t about to let that happen until I passed the hunter safety course taught at the local shooting range. I still have my certificate of completion.

Chambered for the .22 long rifle cartridge, the Marlin opened the door to more than 40 years of outdoor adventure that has included everything from target shooting to plinking at the old dump down the road from Gunlock, Utah, to rabbit and squirrel hunting. Along the way, I have created memories and learned many life lessons that have had a significant impact on the decisions and choices I make every day. I’d like to think those lessons have made me a better person, but perhaps that judgment is better left to others.

No doubt many of you have experienced something similar in your lives and look forward to the day when you can repay the favor by making a gift of a firearm to one of your children or grandchildren, or to a friend or other family member. Perhaps you have thought of the joy you both would have when your gift is opened by a youth who is excited to learn about and participate in shooting sports. If so, you might need to hurry, because state legislators are looking to take away that opportunity.

At least two bills are under consideration that would turn people into criminals for making gifts of firearms regardless of who the recipients are, unless you have evidence the person to whom you intend to give the firearm satisfactorily has completed a background check or has a concealed weapons permit. That includes your youthful kids or grandkids.

Senate Bill 221 and Assembly Bill 234 appear to be mental health bills on the outside, but dig deeper and you will find language that has nothing to do with mental health and is eerily similar between the two bills.

Both bills amend NRS 202.254 to require a private person who wishes to transfer a firearm to another person who does not have a concealed weapons permit to ask the Central Repository for Nevada Records of Criminal History to perform a background check or a federal firearms license holder to submit a request for a background check on the intended recipient before the firearm can be transferred.

Since a person must be 21 years old to qualify for a concealed weapons permit, under changes made by SB 221 and AB 234 you would need to have background checks completed on your children or grandchildren before giving them firearms for birthdays or Christmas. Make a gift of your favorite hunting rifle without complying with the new regulation, and you would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. You also would lose your right to possess a firearm for two years after the date of conviction.

Also, AB 234 places an excise tax “upon each firearms dealer for the privilege of selling firearms and ammunition to consumers ... at the rate of $25 for each firearm and 2 cents for each round of ammunition the firearms dealer sells. ...”

Though it reads firearms dealer, this provision is nothing more than a “sin tax” designed to penalize those of us who opt to purchase a firearm. All business-related taxes are passed on to consumers in the way of increased purchase price.

SB 221 will be heard at 3:30 p.m. today in the Senate Health and Human Services committee meeting.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.