On the left is a proposal to ban all assault rifles, large magazine clips and armor-piercing bullets, sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas. [...]
“Obviously, there is a major issue with guns,” said Segerblom. “I think Nevada has changed from the wild, wild West to a very urban state. I mean, 75 percent of the population is in Las Vegas. People aren’t running around in Stetsons. And this (debate) has nothing to do with hunters, nothing to do with farmers. There are just way too many guns and way too many killings.” [...]
Segerblom said he is proposing his gun bill because of the IHOP shooting in Carson City, which occured not long after the 2011 Legislature adjourned.
Four people were killed and 15 injured when Eduardo Sencion emptied two 30-round clips from his automatic assault weapon just a short drive from the Legislature.
“It is designed to open up the discussion,” Segerblom said. “I don’t think we’ll get everything in this bill, but I’m glad to talk about everything. We are going to have a hearing this next week or the week after that about the shooting in Carson City to see if the law that I am proposing would have had an impact on that. We are trying to get Gabby Giffords to testify, so we are going to raise the profile.”
And at least so far, it has opened up discussion... And companion bills that may actually have a chance at passing this session. In particular, #NVLeg watchers are keeping close tabs on a bill proposed by State Senator Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) to limit firearms access to those who have been involuntarily committed to mental health treatment facilities. There are also some NRA approved gun deregulation bills pending in the Legislature, but at least now most legislators will be under immense pressure not to take that bait. Ah, what a difference Steven Brooks has made.
Yet while it's interesting to see this flurry of gun safety legislation in Carson City, we must remember that Nevada is not an island unto itself. Last Friday, some conservatives mocked President Obama's trip to Chicago to talk gun violence. Hey, if gun violence prevention works, then why is Chicago so violent? Here's what they fail to recognize.
Most significantly, it is important to understand that Chicago is not an island. Although Chicago has historically had strict gun laws, laws in the surrounding parts of Illinois were much laxer —enabling middlemen to supply the criminals in Chicago with guns they purchased elsewhere. Forty three percent of the guns seized by law enforcement in Chicago were originally purchased in other parts of Illinois. And even if the state had stricter gun laws, Illinois is not an island either. The remaining fifty seven percent of Chicago guns all came from out of state, most significantly from nearby Indiana and distant Mississippi —neither of which are known for their strict gun laws. [...]
This is a national problem. Illinois laws, loose as they are, are the eight-strictest in the nation. Broader data suggest that 50 percent of all crime guns come from one percent of dealers. Since illegal guns can travel across state boundaries, federal legislation targeting crooked dealers, traffickers, straw purchasers, and private sales without background checks is the best way to address gun violence in cities like Chicago. Which is exactly what the President [called for in Chicago].
State and local gun regulations are not necessarily fruitless. They can, at least to an extent, fill in the gaps in federal laws when properly enforced. But again, no city, county, or state is an island. And as we've seen recently, Christopher Dorner came here to Nevada (and may have gone to Arizona as well) to circumvent California's strict gun laws.
So what's the solution? Simple. We need a better federal baseline for gun safety.
Believe it or not, cold medicine is more tightly regulated by the feds than firearms and ammunition. Why is that? We have enough evidence demonstrating the failure of this almost completely "hands off" strategy to gun safety.
Sure, communities are not all the same. Rural communities have a different relationship with guns than suburban & urban communities. But with that being said, we nonetheless need a better federal baseline to start with.
Again, why do any civilians need assault weapons and/or high-capacity magazines? Why can't there be universal background checks? Why has so much illegal gun trafficking been allowed to happen thus far?
It's great to finally see a realistic discussion on gun safety in Carson City. And hopefully, that will continue. But ultimately, this doesn't let Joe Heck, Dean Heller, and the rest of Nevada's Congressional Delegation off the hook. Congress must still act.