In the wake of the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival by a 19-year old who legally purchased his murder weapon in Nevada, gun control activists in the state are hoping to use that tragedy as a way to push legislation barring anyone under the age of 21 from legally purchasing a firearm.
While Nevada did pass several gun control laws this session, a ban on gun purchases for 18-20-year-olds wasn’t one of them. According to one gun control activist quoted by the Reno Gazette-Journal, it wasn’t a big priority for lawmakers or gun control groups.
The Nevada chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an Everytown-affiliated gun control group, said there wasn’t a lot of good research to show how effective raising the minimum age on gun purchases might be.
“That’s what prompted us not to push for that,” said Sarah Dahl, who helps lead the local chapter of Moms Demand Action. “In Nevada, there’s some people that push back against every little gun initiative.
“We try to be very strategic about what we know is going to get passed. I’ll be honest, we did not look very closely at raising the minimum age.”
Expect that to change in the next legislative session. Fortunately for gun owners, lawmakers only meet in Nevada every other year, which means the next time anti-gun activists will have a chance to ram more gun control laws through won’t happen until 2021.
When lawmakers convene in Carson City in January of that year, however, plan on legislation raising the age to purchase a firearm to be on the wish list of anti-gun activists, along with gutting firearms preemption laws in the state. Christiane Brown of the gun control group Brady United Against Gun Violence hopes it’ll be a priority for lawmakers as well.
If lawmakers met annually, Brown said, they might be willing to take another crack at one of the few recently proposed gun reforms that might have stopped the Gilroy shooter.
The controversial proposal, known as “pre-emption,” was eventually stripped out of a much larger omnibus gun bill. It would’ve allowed cities and counties to enact tougher gun restrictions than those approved by the state. That means officials in Churchill County, where Legan bought his assault rifle in July, would’ve been empowered to ban sales to 19-year-olds, or to anyone else they thought shouldn’t have a gun.
“If we had passed pre-emption, we could do something about (the Gilroy shooting) right now,” Brown told the Reno Gazette Journal. “That’s the problem with (the Legislature) meeting every other year.”
It’s only a problem if you’re intent on robbing people of their constitutionally protected rights. The good news is gun owners in Nevada have a respite before the next round of state-level gun control comes their way. The bad news is if an anti-gun president gets elected and anti-gun candidates take control of Congress, gun owners in Nevada and across the country will be facing an onslaught of federal gun control bills at the same time.