CARSON CITY — The man who killed four people in a IHOP restaurant in 2011 was a “paranoid schizophrenic” and “gun nut” who wrote a high school paper on gun safety, Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong told legislators Friday.
Though Eduardo Sencion had documented mental health problems, had been an outpatient in Nevada and California facilities, and received Social Security disability payments because of his mental difficulties, Furlong said his gun purchases from private parties and gun dealers were legal.
His testimony came on a day when committees in both the Senate and Assembly discussed gun control and Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, introduced a bill designed to prevent mentally ill people from acquiring firearms.
Several bills have been introduced as legislators seek ways to prevent gun violence. Others fight changes to gun laws and defend absolute Second Amendment rights.
In the Assembly Government Affairs Committee, members discussed, but did not act on, Assembly Bill 196, which would require the governor or state attorney general to stop efforts by the president to restrict gun rights by executive order.
Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, requested the bill because Vice President Joe Biden said if Congress failed to act on gun control, there would be executive orders.
“Now I don’t know about you members of this panel, but this scares the heck out of me and it should scare the heck out of you,” Wheeler said of Biden’s remarks. “Because we all know the president doesn’t write law. That’s the job of the United States Congress.”
At the same time in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the brother of the taxi driver killed in a fiery crash the Strip after a shooting Feb. 21 pleaded with legislators to adopt strong measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous and mentally ill people.
“No one is here to speak for victims of gun violence,” Tehran Boldon said. “Behind me sit 12 people who think their rights are violated by a strong gun control law. That is not the case. To think this is about going into homes and taking weapons is ludicrous. Civilians should not be allowed to have assault weapons. This must stop.”
Boldon’s brother, Michael, 62, and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, were killed when his cab burst into flames after being struck by Kenneth Cherry’s Maserati. Cherry lost control of his car after was shot driving down the Strip. Ammar Harris has been charged with three counts of murder in the case.
The Senate committee hearing largely was designed to allow Furlong to discuss his findings in Sencion’s Sept. 11, 2006, rampage at an IHOP that killed four people, injured seven and left him dead.
Furlong said he was not sure how to keep mentally ill people away from guns.
“A close relationship between mentally health authorities and law enforcement is essential across the country,” Furlong said. Judiciary Chairman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, allowed about 15 minutes for people who do not support changes in gun laws to speak.
When Segerblom adjourned the meeting, speakers in Las Vegas yelled, “Wow,” and one man said “I hope your dog dies.”
Segerblom, however, told National Rifle Association members in Carson City he would hold another hearing in which they could speak.
No one spoke in opposition to Wheeler’s Assembly bill against an executive order.
Randy Mackie, vice president of legislative affairs for the Nevada Firearms Coalition, urged the committee to pass the bill.
“Our constitutional rights are not subject to executive order; however, as we have seen during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, as an example, it is too easy to ignore constitutional rights,” he said.
Mackie was referring to the confiscation of guns by New Orleans police in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Assemblyman Skip Daly, D-Sparks, a gun owner, asked why the bill does not cover all constitutional rights, not just the Second Amendment.
The attorney general is still researching whether the bill would be constitutional, and the governor’s office will not take a position until it is approved.