Campus gun bill denied vote, unlikely to pass

CARSON CITY -- A bill that would make it easier for people with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on Nevada's college and university campuses likely won't make it out of the Legislature, to the dismay of an assault victim who made a last ditch attempt to sway lawmakers.

Senate Bill 231 didn't get a vote in the Assembly Committee on Judiciary Sunday morning despite comments earlier by Chairman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, who previously said he wouldn't block the bill.

"I'm not going to bring it up," Horne said after the committee went into recess Sunday without a vote on the measure.

Amanda Collins, a concealed weapons permit holder who was without her gun the night in 2007 when she was sexually assaulted by James Biela in a University of Nevada, Reno parking garage, attended the judiciary meeting hoping to persuade Horne to hold a vote.

Three months after Collins' assault, Biela kidnapped and killed another student, Brianna Denison. He was sentenced to death last year.

Collins said if SB231, which would have lifted a requirement that weapons permit holders get permission from a college president or police chief to take their gun on campus, had been the law she might have been able to fend off Biela and prevent him from attacking other women.

The bill passed the Senate 15-6 and Collins was disappointed Horne wouldn't bring it up for a vote in the Assembly committee.

"Reliving this is not easy for me," said Collins, who shed her anonymity as an assault victim to testify publicly in support of the bill. "It seems mean to make someone relive something so horrific and not have it brought for a vote."

Higher education officials and some members of law enforcement testified against the bill.

They said more people present with guns would make colleges and universities less safe, especially in the event of a campus shooting.

"I just don't think having more guns on campus makes it safer," said James Richardson, a lobbyist for the Nevada Faculty Alliance. "The biggest problem with guns on campus is suicides."

Horne said there is already a process in place for permit holders to carry guns on campus, get permission from a college president.

He said so far there have been only 11 requests made throughout the Nevada System of Higher Education system, three of which were granted, including one to Collins but only after she was assaulted.

"It seems like there is a process in place that is not even being utilized," Horne said.

He also said the bill needed more work that couldn't be accomplished with the 120-day legislative session set to expire Tuesday at 1 a.m.

Horne also disputed assertions by opponents there are enough votes to move the bill out of the judiciary committee.

"I don't believe the votes are there and I certainly don't think they are there on the floor," Horne said.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, the bill sponsor, told Collins and other supporters after the judiciary meeting there was still a small chance it could be revived.

"People need things, people want things," Lee said. "Nothing is dead yet."