Three days after he said he was concerned about arming teachers, Gov. Brian Sandoval praised the president for starting the conversation about school security.
During a meeting at the White House, Trump reiterated his support for the idea, which Nevada’s governor said Monday is worth discussing.
“It isn’t just about arming teachers…what the president talked about is personnel at the school,” Sandoval told reporters after a lunch with senators. “Let’s say that you have someone who’s post-military and has that type of training…those are things we have to talk about.”
Despite vetoing a background checks bill in Nevada and opposing a ballot question in 2016, the governor said he also discussed with the president and other governors the things Nevada has done to help ensure the system is more effective.
“What we have done is to ensure that anybody who has been adjudicated mentally ill shows up on our gun background check,” Sandoval said. “That anybody who has been adjudicated for domestic violence and has a protective order that they should be prevented from owning a firearm. So we think we’ve done some good things in our state.”
Sandoval opposed Question 1, which mandated federal background checks on private gun sales but was deemed unenforceable by Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is running for governor. Sandoval also vetoed a universal background check bill in 2013 over concerns that it had no exceptions for private transactions between family members.
In November, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence said, “Nevada currently lacks an enforceable process to conduct background checks on private sales of firearms.”
“All of us are very concerned about school safety in our communities and all of us want to do whatever we can to protect the safety of our kids and our teachers,” Sandoval said. “So that was the big discussion at the White House to ensure we do whatever it takes, that we can’t accept the status quo.”
Sandoval, and many of the nation’s governors, were in Washington as part of the National Governors Association (NGA) winter meeting. Sandoval is chair of the NGA.
The meeting comes after 17 people were killed on February 14 in a mass shooting at a south Florida high school, which has brought the issue of the safety of the nation’s schools under the spotlight of lawmakers.
Sandoval said he pulled aside Florida Gov. Rick Scott to provide comfort and support. On Oct. 1, a gunman opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas that resulted in 58 deaths — the single deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“The people of Nevada, me personally, our thoughts are with them, particularly the parents of the victims and the survivors,” he said. “This is something…that doesn’t go away.”
On infrastructure, Sandoval touted the initiatives passed in Washoe and Clark Counties to index the gas tax, as well as a fee devoted to highway construction tacked onto the cost of registering automobiles. He noted that he wants the state to get some type of credit for raising the amount it contributes to infrastructure under any new legislation.
“All I can say is in Nevada we’ve approved fuel indexing already so I think that is a substantial contribution, both in Washoe and Clark Counties people voted to increase their gas taxes to fund roads,” Sandoval said. “I want to ensure that, essentially, we get grandfathered in when it comes to the fact that we have historical contributions.”
He was skeptical of a federal gas tax increase — Trump has talked about a 25 cent boost — since the state acted on its own with the indexing plan. “We’ve already taxed ourselves,” he said.
Sandoval also said he argued for more discretion at the state level over infrastructure construction, particularly with environmental reviews.
“One of the things we talked about was the length of permitting and how it takes too long,” Sandoval said. “If you have a road and you want to do work on it…it shouldn’t have to go through an entirely new environmental impact statement, it’s something that will take 10 years on a road that already exists.”
Broadband was also discussed and how to build the “last mile” to ensure people in rural communities have access to the internet, he said.
Though his tenure as governor will come to an end at the end of the year, Sandoval said he remains focused on finishing strong.
“All I know is this, it’s 2018, I’ve got 10 more months, I am as focused and directed as I’ve ever been in terms of serving as governor, ensuring that we govern in the best way possible in the best interest of the people of Nevada,” he said, declining to discuss his future plans.