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Bill would allow multiple charges for felons with guns

CARSON CITY — A loophole allowing those with felony convictions to be charged with just one count of illegal firearm possession regardless of the number of guns in their possession may soon be closed under a bill introduced in the state Senate.

Senate Bill 367, sponsored by state Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, would change current law to specify that an individual who has been convicted of a felony can be charged separately for each firearm “owned, possessed, manufactured or sold.”

The bill seeks to close a loophole created by a 2021 Nevada Supreme Court decision which ruled language in current statute is “ambiguous” and allows a defendant to be charged with only one violation regardless of the number of firearms in their possession.

“We shouldn’t be saying to someone who is a felon and is dealing guns illegally on the streets who has 50 firearms that they can sort of shield themselves and be immune to having to face any additional repercussions from having that number of guns in their possession when they’re already not supposed to have them,” Cannizzaro said.

Individuals with felony convictions are barred from possessing firearms unless they have been pardoned.

The bill also brings state statute in line with federal law by creating an additional penalty if an individual is carrying a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime. The legislation is meant to be “targeted” by taking aim at individuals participating in drug trafficking rather than those in possession of small amounts of drugs, Cannizzaro said.

The proposed legislation also allows juvenile justice agencies, juvenile courts and child welfare agencies to release records for a background check being conducted for the purpose of determining whether an individual is eligible to buy a firearm.

Cannizzaro said she hasn’t yet heard of any opposition to the legislation but hopes there will be “good support” to pass it.

A representative from the Nevada Firearms Coalition could not be reached for comment on the bill on Tuesday.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on Twitter.

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