Updated May 15, 2023 - 6:57 pm
CARSON CITY — Bills that would bar people younger than 21 from possessing or purchasing semiautomatic firearms and prohibit people from possessing a firearm near an election site are headed to the governor’s desk after lawmakers passed the legislation Monday afternoon.
State senators voted on party lines to pass the bills, with state Sen. Carrie Buck, R-Henderson, excused from the vote and state Sen. Skip Daly, D-Reno, absent from the chamber.
Lawmakers argued over Assembly Bill 355, which would prohibit a person younger than 21 from possessing or purchasing a semiautomatic shotgun or semiautomatic rifle, with exceptions for law enforcement and members of the military.
“Every single time an event like (a mass shooting) occurs, either nationally or here at home, we always work together and we think to ourselves ‘What can we do better?’ ” said state Sen. Fabian Doñate, D-Las Vegas. “Here it is. This is a potential deterrent that we have for gun violence injuries in our state.”
But Republican senators questioned the limit and raised constitutional concerns.
“It does seem interesting, too, that in this body, we have voted to allow minors to have major medical decisions,” said state Sen. Ira Hansen, R-Sparks. “Yet here, we have 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds who we’re going to deny a fundamental constitutional right.”
Assembly Bill 354, also passed on party lines.
The bill, which would bar people from possessing a firearm within 100 feet of an entrance to an election site and would clarify a 2021 bill related to firearms that lack serial numbers, also known as “ghost guns,” was opposed by Republicans including Hansen.
“These bills target, as always, completely innocent people who are already honest, law-abiding citizens,” Hansen said.
The bill is meant to protect election workers, said Sen. James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas.
“Over in the elections committee, we’ve had a lot of testimony this session about clerks, registrars who have resigned over the last couple years out of fear for their safety, for their families out of threats,” Ohrenschall said. “I believe this will try to help create a much healthier atmosphere at our polling places so we don’t have election workers, clerks, registrars not wanting to do this important work to keep our democracy going.”
In the Assembly, lawmakers voted 27-14 on party lines to advance Senate Bill 171, which would bar a person convicted of committing or attempting to commit a hate crime involving violence in the past 10 years from possessing, purchasing or owning a firearm.
All of those bills now go to Gov. Joe Lombardo for his approval or veto.
A previous version of this story incorrectly said AB355 applied to automatic weapons.