Nevada and California are “brothers and sisters in more ways than other states can say,” and the Route 91 festival shooting cemented that notion further, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Friday during a gun policy discussion at UNLV.
“Thirty-three of the 58 people who died on Oct. 1 were from California, and I suspect many of the others were transplants from California,” Becerra said. “What we do impacts you, and what you do impacts us. We have every reason to try to work together.”
Becerra spoke Friday during the first in what will be a yearlong series of discussions at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law on solutions for reducing gun violence.
He said California has the “strongest and most innovative laws” when it comes to gun safety because the state has “done stuff.”
“We discovered that doing stuff works, rather than being afraid of what might happen and being afraid of our own shadow,” he said.
Strengthening background checks is one of those measures. And Becerra said he would like to see the country adopt universal background checks.
“Nevada, Arizona, Utah, some of our neighbors don’t have the same stringent measures,” Becerra said. “You just have to cross the state line, and you can essentially circumvent our laws. It helps when you have a national standard … a floor for what the minimum protection would be.”
California also has a program that allows law enforcement to recover weapons from people who have lost the right to own them.
“If you’re a felon, you no longer have a right to possess a weapon,” Becerra said. “We act on it and go after that weapon.”
He said this program and other measures are “reasonable” to providing security for Californians and do not encroach on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
“It’s a small number of bad apples that make life difficult for all of us,” he said.
State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, said Nevada’s next move to improve gun safety should be banning bump stocks.
“To me that should be a no-brainer, considering the ramifications of 1 October,” Cancela said, adding that she will support such a measure in the 2019 legislative session.
Cancela and Clark County Attorney Steve Wolfson were part of a second discussion on gun policy Friday morning that also included Andrew Walsh, deputy chief for the Metropolitan Police Department, UNLV law professor Ian Bartrum and Sierra Vista High School Principal John Anzalone.
Cancela said she had submitted a bill draft request to reverse the state’s pre-emption law, which ensures uniform gun policies across the state, and wants to see “exponentially greater” funding for mental health services.
“And I think all of those are going to be heavy lifts,” she said. “We are going to need an entire community to come together and say they don’t just want one-off policies, that we really want to be a better, more progressive state on gun policy.”