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Nevada gun control measure targeted in lawsuit

CARSON CITY – A Las Vegas-based citizens group is suing to challenge a key gun control measure enacted earlier this year and block it from taking effect in January.

A lawsuit filed in Carson City District Court Thursday challenges the state’s new red flag law, which empowers authorities to seize firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or others. Passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor as part of a larger gun control bill last spring, it takes effect Jan. 1.

The lawsuit says the provision “makes mincemeat” of due process protections and violates federal and state gun laws. Beyond the Second Amendment and the state constitution, it cites the state Supreme Court’s September ruling that requires jury trials for those accused of misdemeanor domestic violence.

That ruling has turned the state court system upside down as localities, whose courts are not equipped for jury trials in misdemeanor cases cases, have sought workarounds.

The red flag provision was part of Assembly Bill 291, which also bans bump stocks, toughens storage rules to keep guns from children, and lowers the legal blood-alcohol level for holding a firearm to 0.08 percent. Bump stocks, which increase the firing rate of semi-automatic firearms, were used in the Oct. 1, 2017 Route 91 Harvest festival mass shooting that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds. A 59th victim died last month, more than two years after the attack.

The red-flag section of the bill was added by amendment in late May. The bill passed both houses on party-line votes and was signed into law in June.

Under the law, a family member or law enforcement officer could seek a court order against a potentially threatening person, blocking the person from buying a gun and requiring the individual to surrender any weapons they possess. Eighteen states including Nevada have such laws.

The lawsuit, which names as plaintiffs the citizens group NevadansCAN and two Las Vegans who founded it, says that procedure contravenes what the Supreme Court ruled in September because it allows a judge, and not a jury, to decide if a person’s firearms should be confiscated.

Red-flagging, also known as extreme risk protection orders, “cannot be used to deprive gun owners of their right to keep and bear arms unless a jury is empaneled” to decide the facts, the lawsuit claims.

“Red Flag laws are unconstitutional, and we will not stand for this government power grab in Nevada,” co-plaintiff Julie Chen Hereford said in a release posted on the group’s website.

The suit names the state and Gov. Steve Sisolak as defendants.

Contact Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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