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Mother of murder victim says she supports campus gun bill in Legislature

CARSON CITY – The mother of murder victim Brianna Denison said Thursday she supports a bill in the Legislature that lifts restrictions used to prevent students from carrying legal concealed weapons on Nevada’s college and university campuses.

Bridgette Zunino-Denison said she agrees with proponents of Senate Bill 231 that had such a law been in place in 2007 it might have stopped the man who killed her daughter.

James Biela, the man convicted for kidnapping and killing Brianna in early 2008 had previously attacked and assaulted student Amanda Collins in a University of Nevada, Reno parking garage.

Biela was armed when he attacked Collins, despite state law that requires people to get permission from a college president before carrying a legal, concealed weapon on campus.

Because of the restriction Collins, a concealed weapon permit holder, didn’t have her gun at the time of the attack.

Collins, who testified before the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, said had she had her gun she might have been able to stop Biela from completing his attack on her and going on to attack another woman before kidnapping and killing Brianna Denison.

Zunino-Denison said she disagreed with opposition to SB231 from Nevada System of Higher Education administrators and police chiefs who say people carrying legal, concealed weapons on campus would make colleges less safe.

She said the training required to get a permit assures weapon carriers are safe.

“If they are responsible enough to get through the course they are responsible people,” Zunino-Denison said.

She added that it is unfortunate students would feel the need to carry guns on campus, but that it should be their choice so long as they are qualified. She emphasized support of SB231 was her personal opinion, not that of the Bring Bri Justice Foundation.

Zunino-Denison was in the legislative building Wednesday and Thursday to testify in support of Assembly Bill 552, which would enable police to collect DNA from people arrested for felonies and certain sex offenses.

The campus gun bill has passed out of the Senate Government Affairs Committee by a 4-1 vote. It has bi-partisan support in the Senate.

But there is tension between SB231 sponsor Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, and Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, over gun bills facing the Legislature.

Lee has accused Oceguera, who is among Democratic leaders who invited Zunino-Denison to the Legislature to testify on AB552, of seeking to swoop up and take credit for myriad gun bills.

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