Four Democrats jostling to be Nevada’s next governor squared off Wednesday on gun control, immigration and the state’s struggling education system.
Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, pediatric endocrinologist Asheesh Dewan, union leader David Jones and business owner Henry Thorns fielded questions from a room full of Nevadans at the Red Rock Democratic Club’s candidate forum at Temple Sinai Las Vegas.
The club, which faced scrutiny after excluding reporters from a debate last month, recently revised its policies to allow journalists to cover its candidate forums without recording audio or video.
Two candidates, County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and former Las Vegas Constable John Bonaventura, did not attend the forum.
On the topic of gun control, Giunchigliani said she supports banning bump stocks like those used in the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, and requiring universal background checks. She said that her husband was a sportsman and that he would never need to use an assault rifle for hunting.
“You don’t need weapons of war on the streets. Period,” Giunchigliani said.
Thorns agreed, saying military weapons should never be allowed on the streets. He suggested the state could shield against gun violence at schools by placing veterans in front of schools to patrol them.
Dewan said controlling gun violence starts with addressing mental illness. He advocated for a registration system that would allow authorities to take away a person’s firearm if they are arrested for domestic violence or other violent offenses.
Jones said he would bolster punishment for gun owners who allow their weapons to be used in a crime.
When asked about whether Nevada should be a “sanctuary state” to protect its undocumented immigrants, all but one candidate supported the idea.
Giunchigliani said she doesn’t believe local police officers should be doing the work of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Thorns said that everyone in America is an immigrant and that young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally by their parents “deserve to stay.” Jones agreed, saying he “believes in humanity.”
Dewan said Nevada might not be able to care for all the immigrants who want to live here.
“What is Nevada capable of?” he asked. “If we declare ourselves a sanctuary state, will we be able to take care of those people?”
Giunchigliani said that the current education system caters to students who pass tests and that it needs to change. “In the long run, we’ve got to get rid of all the testing,” she said.
She also pushed for later start times and tossing out textbooks, saying they’re “all white-washed out of Texas” and don’t tell the story of diversity.
Thorns said he’d like to see schools teach a curriculum that allows students to land jobs in the casinos and other Nevada industries. Jones advocated for getting rid of Common Core and called it a “failed experiment.”
Dewan said universities, including UNLV, should only receive state money for students who graduate their programs.
The primary election is June 12.