April 5, 2017 - 6:40 pm
CARSON CITY — It may be easier to keep firearms out of the hands of people in Nevada who are considered to be a risk to themselves or their family members.
Senate Bill 387 would allow a law enforcement officer or an immediate family member to seek a civil court order that would keep the person from having firearms in their possession. The measure would not require the person to be arrested before taking their firearms, but they would have to show a pattern of either threats, or violent acts.
Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, a sponsor of the bill, said the intent is to be a tool for law enforcement and be used only “when there is a clear and present danger that needs to be addressed.”
Courts making the determination would weigh factors such as whether the person has a felony conviction, has been reckless with a firearm, or has a history of abuse, threats or substance abuse. The court also could look at whether the person has recently purchased a firearm.
“We believe that this is an appropriate and very limited” restriction, Ratti told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
The bill would require a person to be ordered to turn their firearms and ammunition over to law enforcement or a licensed firearms dealer. The bill also has a provision allowing the person to get their firearms back after the order expires.
The bill has support from crime victims, therapists and the Nevada Gun Safety Coalition. Supporters said the bill could prevent tragedies like the mass shooting in 2011 at an IHOP restaurant in Carson City. In that shooting, the gunman killed four people before committing suicide.
Opposition to bill
Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said he was concerned the bill was overly broad and may infringe on Second Amendment and due process rights.
He compared the bill to “Minority Report,” a futuristic 2002 Tom Cruise film with law enforcement officers who arrested people before they commit murders because their crimes were predicted.
Second Amendment and gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association, criticized the bill because it takes away firearms from people without an arrest.
Daniel Reid, a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association, said the “bill takes away Second Amendment rights” and has a low standard for evidence.
But Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, took exception to that, noting the bill allows the order only when “less restrictive measures” don’t work.
“The standard is not low,” Ford said.
The committee didn’t take action on the bill Wednesday.
Contact Ben Botkin at email@example.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.
By the numbers
- 446 firearm deaths in Nevada in 2015, including homicides, suicides and accidents.
- 1,442 suicide deaths in Nevada by firearms since 2012
- Source: Nevada Gun Safety Coalition.