CARSON CITY — Brian and Valerie Wilson asked the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to approve a bill that would allow them to carry their loaded weapons and serve as foster parents.
In testimony to the committee in support of Assembly Bill 167, the couple said their attempts to get a variance from a state regulation prohibiting the carrying of loaded weapons with foster children was denied.
“I am really heartbroken that the Department of Child and Family Services gave us this denial letter,” Valerie Wilson said. “I really want a family.”
Wilson said the Las Vegas couple always planned to become foster parents and adopt but have been denied permission to do so because of the regulation, which he wants to change with the bill. Current rules require guns and ammunition to be stored separately in secure containers in homes with foster children.
The bill would allow Nevadans with concealed-weapons permits, and law enforcement officers, to carry loaded weapons on their person in a home or car and still be eligible to be foster parents. If not carried on their person, the weapons would be required to be kept in a secure safe, but they could remain loaded.
Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, who sponsored the bill, said the bill has bipartisan support. State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-Las Vegas, who has a conceal-carry permit, is looking at becoming a foster parent, she said.
“I don’t know if some of my peers have toured Child Haven or have been in Child Haven, but we have children in need of great foster care, and we have had people that are law-abiding citizens that have gotten their background checks, that have their CCWs, literally denied to foster a child because they have a concealed-weapons permit,” Fiore said.
Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, D-North Las Vegas, said foster children are often traumatized. She asked if having them exposed to weapons would be appropriate.
Jill Marano, deputy administrator of the state Division of Child and Family Services, said the agency’s goal is to work with foster parents, but there is a concern about the ability of a child to gain access to a loaded weapon. She opposed the bill in its current form.
Marano said a computer search turned up 16 incidents over the past four months in which children were involved in the accidental discharge of a loaded weapon.
Michael Knight, assistant director of Clark County Family Services, also spoke in opposition, citing the facts presented by Marano.
The committee took no immediate action on the bill.