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Scorecard raises Nevada’s gun safety grade, says state can do more

Firearms and accessories as seen on display on the convention floor of the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show inside the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has raised Nevada’s gun safety grade from a ‘D’ to a ‘C+’ after lawmakers passed multiple gun control measures in the 2019 session. 

The organization announced the higher grade in a press release on Monday detailing its annual review of gun safety laws across the U.S. It attributed the change in grade to the enactment of a universal background check requirement, an extreme risk protection or ‘red flag’ law, a bump stock ban and a law holding gun owners accountable for negligently stored firearms or allowing children unsupervised access to guns. 

Illinois, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Vermont and Utah also received higher grades from the center. According to the press release, 22 states enacted 70 gun safety bills in 2019 and Nevada is one of 12 states that received a grade within the ‘C’ range. Twenty-one states received an ‘F,’ and only eight states received an ‘A.’

“For decades, state lawmakers have an established track record of following the [National Rifle Association’s] orders. But this era is over as state leaders are now charting a different course,” Robyn Thomas, executive director of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said in the press release. “The rise of gun safety laws, which accelerated after Parkland captured the nation’s attention and crystalized demands for action, shows leaders on both sides of the aisle are taking action.”

Although the press release celebrated Nevada’s new gun safety laws, it also pointed out that in 2017, the state had the 14th highest gun death rate in the country and the third-highest crime gun export rate — guns sold in Nevada that are used for crimes in other states. It said that Nevada legislators could decrease those rates and continue strengthening gun laws by requiring a waiting period following all gun sales, as well as adding more restrictions for people accused of domestic violence from owning or possessing firearms.

But the state’s stricter gun laws have drawn staunch opposition from many rural communities in the state. There is a growing divide between Nevada’s rural counties and urban populations over gun control regulations as rural sheriffs and counties oppose recent gun legislation from a Democratic governor and Democratic lawmakers, calling the laws “unconstitutional.” 

Some gun owners have also bristled over Nevada’s recently implemented red flag laws and expanded background checks. NevadansCAN, a conservative nonprofit organization, filed a lawsuit against the state in December 2019 challenging the constitutionality of the new red flag laws. 

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is a national public interest law center that promotes gun control legislation and conducts research on federal, state, and local firearm laws. The center is named for former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who became a gun control advocate after she survived being shot in 2011.

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