Major gun bill to drop local government firearm regulation, add 'Red Flag' and gun storage components
Senate leaders plan to put a waiver and heavily amend Democratic Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui’s bill to ban bump stocks and allow local governments to preempt state gun laws, amid concerns from labor unions that the bill could scare a national firearms tradeshow away from Las Vegas.
No work session or committee vote was held on AB291 on Friday, but the bill is expected to receive a waiver from legislative deadlines for continued work and a future amendment — agreed to by several gun safety groups — removing language allowing local governments to preempt state gun laws and instead replacing it with “red flag” provisions, which allow law enforcement and family members to request a court order temporarily seizing an individual's firearms. It’s also likely to include aspects of Democratic Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo’s bill creating criminal penalties for negligently storing or leaving a firearm where a child can access it.
"At the request of Everytown and other organizations I have decided to remove the pre-emption language from AB291," Jauregui said in a statement. "This is too important of an issue for me to risk moving forward without the support of a broad coalition. The provisions relating to blood alcohol content and banning bump stocks will move forward, and I am looking at other fixes to improve gun safety in our communities such as extreme risk legislation."
Jauregui, a survivor of the October 1 mass shooting, presented the original bill before a joint Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committee on April 1, and it passed the Assembly on a party-line 28-13 vote on April 23.
But the bill has hit a snag in the Senate, as a number of labor organizations have begun raising concerns that allowing local governments to pass more restrictive gun laws — a concept publicly embraced by Clark County Commission members Tick Segerblom and Justin Jones — would cause the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s annual SHOT show in Las Vegas to move to a different municipality.
Rusty McAllister, head of the Nevada AFL-CIO, said his union was officially neutral on the bill, but was aware that several of his affiliate unions — namely the Teamsters — had concerns that allowing local governments to preempt state gun laws could lead to the SHOT show leaving the state.
“I know that the SHOT show is set up by Teamsters and torn down by Teamsters, so of course they have an interest in the show from a work standpoint,” he said.
Other labor representatives were more direct.
“The SHOT show is scheduled to be the largest show in the next three years, as far as trade shows go,” Laborers Local 872 lobbyist Tom Morley said. “It’s 60,000 heads in beds, $30 million in revenue, $5 million in payroll for the Teamsters in that short span. Why are we going to push it to another market?”
The idea of preemption has also caused some concerns among law enforcement. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department lobbyist Chuck Callaway said the department was neutral on the bill but called preemption a “double-edged” sword with some minor benefits but could be logistically difficult to enforce in areas with multiple overlapping jurisdictions, such as Southern Nevada.
“Depending on the circumstances, you could have extreme agendas being pushed,” he said. “If you have the power, you could push an extreme agenda. It's a lot easier to pass something like that with seven people on a county commission than it is for 63 people in the Legislature.”
Callaway also repeated a possibility that the preemption provisions could be amended out and replaced with a “red flag” laws, which allows family members or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily seize firearms from a potentially dangerous person. He said he wanted to see bill language first, but would likely be supportive of a measure after bringing his concerns to Democratic Sen. Julia Ratti, who sponsored a similar bill this session that died on the first legislative deadline.
Although no amendments have been offered yet on the bill, several supporters of the measure — including Battle Born Progress director Annette Magnus — said they believed the preemption language might be removed from the bill, a move that she said would severely water the measure down.
“We are disappointed with the process we’ve seen on the Senate side, and we are disappointed that this bill may change. I think we owe it to the victims of Route 91, 1 October shooting to do the right thing, and the right thing is to keep preemption in the bill,” she said. “By taking preemption out of this bill, you’re taking the teeth out. You’re taking the heart out.”
Elizabeth Becker, a volunteer with Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, said her group would still be supportive of the bill without preemption, and she said the addition of “red flag” provisions was also a boost to gun safety.
“I still support altering preemption in the state,” she said. “The thing about red flag (laws) is that red flags save lives now.”
The group also shared results of a poll conducted by ALG Research finding 70 percent of Nevadans supported “red flag” laws, including 90 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of independents. The poll was conducted with 601 likely voters between April 28 and May 1, with a 4 percent margin of error.
The bill has also been staunchly opposed by the National Rifle Association and a PAC founded by former attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt.