A bill that would expand the criminal penalties for bringing a gun into casinos in Nevada narrowly passed out of the state Senate on Wednesday on a 11-10 vote, and the legislation is being criticized not only by Second Amendment organizations but police unions and the state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. While the ACLU isn’t usually a defender of the right to keep and bear arms, the Nevada chapter says the bill could lead to casinos calling the cops on black and brown patrons they suspect might have a gun on them.
Athar Haseebullah, the executive director of the ACLU of Nevada, took to Twitter after the vote, calling the bill “arguably the most racist piece of legislation by any Democratic body anywhere in years.”
[Sen. Dina] Neal discussed those concerns in a floor statement explaining her no vote, stating she had heard her constituents express concerns about policing and potential ramifications.
“Sometimes there are bills where you cannot, in good conscience, go against your constituents,” Neal said.
Neal, who represents a district that encompasses much of North Las Vegas, was the lone Democrat to vote against the bill when it reached the Senate floor. The sponsor of the legislation, also a Las Vegas Democrat, argued that the legislation is meant to curb violent crime, even though the ban encompasses those who possess a valid concealed carry license as well as those carrying a gun illegally.
Bill sponsor and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, has argued the bill is designed to reduce violent crime rates on the Strip that increased during the pandemic. Metro investigated at least eight shootings on the Strip in a one-month stretch last fall.
“No one in this state should have to live, regardless of where they live or where they’re going, under the fear of being shot, regardless of where that is coming from,” Cannizzaro said. “Right now there is a significant danger to individuals who work in casinos, who are there to do their jobs, and for individuals who are visiting those premises.”
Note that those shootings took place on the Strip, not in casinos themselves. I suppose when this bill fails to stem the violence on the Strip, Cannizzaro will be back next year with a bill to make the Strip itself a “gun-free zone.”
Of course, there’s still a chance that the state Assembly will reject the bill, but given the 26-16 Democratic majority in the chamber, it’s far more likely that the legislation, backed by casino interests like MGM Grand, will soon become law. I have no idea if it will lead to racial profiling as the ACLU claims, but I do know that the law won’t prevent a single violent crime from taking place. No criminal is going to be stopped from committing a violent felony because they’re scared of being arrested for a non-violent misdemeanor offense.
Instead, it’ll be the law-abiding who are disarmed by Cannizzaro’s legislation. If there truly is a significant danger to individuals who work and play in the city’s casinos, the proper response from lawmakers should be to ensure that those folks can protect themselves, instead of demanding they be disarmed.