Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo campaigned on a pledge to protect the Second Amendment rights of Nevada residents, and the former Clark County sheriff delivered on his word on Wednesday by whipping out his veto pen and rejecting three bills approved by the Democrat-controlled legislature. Even more deliciously, Lombardo’s move came just hours before anti-gun groups had scheduled a press conference designed to pressure the governor to adopt the new restrictions.
In his veto message, Lombardo said that he could not support any legislation that infringes on the rights of Nevada gun owners, adding that “much of the legislation I vetoed today is in direct conflict with legal precedent and established constitutional protections.”
He’s not wrong. The three bills that were sent to his desk would have weakened the Second Amendment’s protections for gun owners, while failing to address the underlying issues driving the state’s violent crime.
AB355 would have raised the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle to 21. In his veto of the bill, Lombardo said similar legislation has already been struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the grounds that it is unconstitutional to bar people under 21 from possessing such firearms.
SB171 would have prevented a person convicted of a hate crime from owning a firearm for a period of 10 years following the conviction. Lombardo stated that SB171 would go much further than existing laws on hate crimes and deprive individuals of the right to bear arms.
He also said that there is a “limited nexus between misdemeanor offenses and gun violence (that) makes it untenable to pass a law that immediately putting the defendant’s Second Amendment rights in jeopardy.” According to Lombardo, SB171 would also open the door for more laws restricting those convicted of gross misdemeanors from owning guns.
AB354 would have prevented the possession of a firearm within a certain distance of an election site. While he called the goals of the bill commendable, he said scope of the bill is too broad, and that there is no notable history of gun violence at election facilities in Nevada.
He said the bill would replicate federal and state laws prohibiting intimidation at or near a ballot box. He also called the bill “impermissibly vague” in relation to its 100 feet gun free radius surrounding a ballot box, and that such ballot boxes are common in gathering locations across Nevada.
He concluded his assessment of AB354 by saying the bill’s aim to end the transfer of certain firearm parts and receivers would place a burden on lawful gun activity.
While Democrats maintain a veto-proof majority in the Nevada House they’re still one vote shy in the state Senate, so it appears unlikely that the legislature will be able to override Lombardo’s rejection of the gun control measures. And since the state legislature only meets every other year, it looks like these bills won’t be back until 2025 at the earliest. That’s very good news for gun owners in the state, but the 2024 elections will be crucially important in preserving their right to armed self-defense. If Democrats are able to get a veto-proof majority in both chambers they won’t bother passing bills prohibiting sales of modern sporting rifles to adults younger than 21. They’ll go for a full-on gun ban, as well as adopting the same bogus “gun-free zones” that we’ve seen in states like New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. Nevada gun owners may have gotten a reprieve thanks to Lombardo’s actions today, but the fight for our right to keep and bear arms is far from over in the Silver State.