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The Nevada Independent

Democratic lawmakers hammer Lombardo over ghost gun undercount

Former Sheriff Joe Lombardo downplayed the number of ghost guns recovered by police. Now, Democrats are planning a third attempt to ban them.
Bert Johnson
Bert Johnson
Criminal JusticeState Government

More than a year before he was elected governor, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told a group of pro-gun voters that over the previous 12 months, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department had encountered just six ghost guns. 

“It’s not a big issue,” he said at the time.

But according to an investigation of police records by KUNR and APM Reports, officers had recovered at least 252 of the firearms, which are often sold in kits without serial numbers, at the time Lombardo made those remarks. At the time, Lombardo was still serving as the department’s sheriff. 

Responding to Lombardo’s inaccurate claim, Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas) didn’t mince words.

“He chose the gun lobby over the safety of Nevadans. He chose the gun lobby over Nevada lives,” she said in an interview with KUNR.

Jauregui, a Democrat, has sponsored two ghost gun bans in the Legislature. Lawmakers approved both, but the first was overturned in court. Last year, after Lombardo was elected governor, he vetoed the second ban.

Democrats need just one more vote in the state Senate to overturn Lombardo’s ghost gun veto.

Sen. Melanie Scheible (D-Las Vegas), who cosponsored one of the ghost gun bans, said if her party were to win a supermajority in the Senate in this year’s election, it would allow them to address gun violence. 

“The investigation only reaffirmed for me the need to take action in the next legislative session to prevent more unnecessary gun violence and gun deaths,” she said.

Scheible, who worked as a prosecutor in Las Vegas until 2022, said the risk posed by ghost guns is well understood in her field.

“When I talk to other attorneys about gun cases, there is a common understanding and expectation that when minors are committing acts of violence — or any prohibited acts with a firearm — that firearm is going to be a ghost gun,” she said.

Jauregui said she’s ready to try a ghost gun ban again.

“My work around gun violence prevention isn’t done, because I know firsthand what it’s like to experience gun violence,” she said.

Jauregui is a survivor of the Route 91 Harvest shooting in October 2017 — the deadliest such attack in modern U.S. history. She said that experience motivates her to pursue gun violence reforms. 

Jauregui said she would like to introduce the ghost gun ban before the 2025 session, but the legislative schedule makes that impossible. 

Neither Lombardo nor multiple Republican lawmakers responded to interview requests for this story.


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