Concealed-weapon permit holders talk about Scott case at forum

Erik Scott's death at the hands of Las Vegas police officers will not change how some Nevadans carry their concealed weapons.

Those asked to comment about Scott at Thursday's concealed-weapon permit holders forum, a teleconference originating in Carson City and seen in Las Vegas and Elko, said Scott did not act appropriately when he was approached by Las Vegas officers outside a busy Summerlin Costco in July.

"The rules are pretty plain," said George, who declined to give his last name. "If three officers point a gun at you, you put your hands up, and that's it."

Asked to rate on a scale of one to 10 how Scott's death would affect their own behavior while carrying guns in public, three permit holders gave the same score: "zero."

The attendees, approached at the Grant Sawyer State Building before the morning question-and-answer session, were unanimous that Scott's death was his own fault. Some of the "fine print" regarding concealed weapons can be muddy, they said, but the key points are clear: Don't carry weapons when you've been using alcohol or drugs. Don't carry weapons into a private residence or business that restricts firearms. And if you're approached by a police officer, never reach for your weapon, they said.

"He was carrying the weapon illegally as soon as he put it on his hip while under the influence of narcotics," George said.

The Scott shooting was not directly discussed in the forum, but many permit holders and would-be permit holders expressed passionate opinions on the circumstances.

One permit holder, Paul, who said he carries a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic, said Scott's first mistake was allowing a Costco employee to see his weapon. Even if Scott had broken store policy by carrying the gun inside, no one would have perceived a threat or called police if it were not visible.

"By him doing that, he drew his harbingers of death right to where he was," said Paul, who declined to give his last name.

Permit holders are trained to keep their hands visible, not to reach for their gun when approached by a police officer, Paul said.

Paul said he was taught to keep his wallet in his left back pocket -- opposite of his handgun -- so that if he instinctively reached for his permit, an officer wouldn't assume he was going for his weapon, he said.

"Safety is the big thing, for yourself and the officer," he said.

Chester, who recently moved to Nevada, said many residents are unaware that it's legal to openly carry a handgun in this state.

That can be difficult for gun owners who have to explain themselves to those uneducated about the law, he said.

"You live in Nevada, and this is how it is," he said. "If you don't like it, go to Chicago. Go to Washington."