Legislators tackle concealed weapon disparity

One of the things I learned early during my time as a game warden is that Nevada’s hunters and anglers like to carry a sidearm when pursuing their outdoor interests in the backcountry. Their stated reasons for carrying the sidearm varied, but almost universally the choice came down to having the ability to protect themselves and their loved ones while in the field.

While some of the sportsmen I contacted chose to carry their sidearm in plain sight, a few opted to carry their firearm concealed. To do the latter, you must have a valid concealed weapons permit, and that requires completion of an approved firearms safety class, demonstration of proficiency and satisfactory completion of a background check to make sure you can legally own a firearm in the first place. You also have the opportunity to spend a couple of hours or so waiting to have your fingerprints taken at the local sheriff’s office or like fingerprint bureau.

Though obtaining a concealed weapon permit is a time-consuming process, with one notable exception it is not overly burdensome on the applicant. That exception is the legal requirement that anyone seeking a permit to carry a semiautomatic handgun in a concealed manner has to qualify with each individual model of firearm he would like to have the option of carrying. Those firearm options are then listed on the issued permit. If you want to have the choice to carry another model — one that isn’t on the original list — you must demonstrate proficiency with that one as well and then have your permit updated to reflect the addition.

However, the same is not true when it comes to revolvers. Whether you own a single revolver or several, and would like the option of carrying a different revolver every day, all you have to do is qualify with a single revolver. Thereafter, you can carry any legally acquired revolver you want with no changes to your permit and no additional proficiency requirements.

I have no idea why there is such a disparity between the requirements for semiautomatic handguns and revolvers, but after observing the legislative process through the years I would guess it has something to do with reaching a compromise between opposing sides of the concealed weapon issue.

Regardless, the days of that disparity may be coming to an end. Two similar bills making their way through the state legislature would eliminate the onerous qualifying requirements and list individual semiautomatic firearms on a concealed weapon permit.

Senate Bill 126, introduced by Sen. James Settelmeyer (R-Minden) and Sen. John Lee (D-Las Vegas), would revise the provisions of the concealed weapon statute to allow one to “submit one application and obtain one permit to carry all revolvers and semiautomatic firearms owned by the person.” Your permit would simply identify which category of handgun you are permitted to carry.

Assembly Bill 143 would make similar revisions in the law, but takes the additional step of making the identity and personal information of concealed weapon permit holders confidential. This bill’s primary sponsors are David Bobzien (D–Reno), Debbie Smith (R-Sparks), Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka), William Horn (D-Las Vegas) and John Oceguera (D-Las Vegas). This bill will be heard by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at intheoutdoorslv@gmail.com.

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