In the 2011 session of the Nevada Legislature, a bill to allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry their guns onto Nevada System of Higher Education campuses passed the Senate, but died in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. This year, an almost exact duplicate has been introduced in that very committee.
Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, said she struggled when drafting Assembly Bill 143, because she doesn’t agree with a key exception: the provision that bans concealed weapons from athletic events in venues that can seat 1,000 people or more.
Although that provision was amended into the 2011 bill after much debate (it was thought that the consumption of alcohol and ready access to firearms was a bad combination) Fiore says she didn’t agree. Concealed weapons permit holders are generally responsible enough to avoid intoxication while carrying, she said.
“I personally disagree with that [provision],” Fiore said today. “I’m compromising on that. That portion of the bill is so people don’t do a Tom Collins.”
Fiore was referring to an incident in which an allegedly drunken Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins fired several rounds from a .40-caliber Sig Sauer pistol at a tree stump on his North Las Vegas property. He pled no contest to the crime, paid a fine and surrendered his weapon to authorities. (And was handily re-elected to his post in November!)
Fiore says most gun owners are not like that. “I’m extremely cautious where I carry my firearm,” said Fiore, who is well-known for being armed and for her advocacy of gun rights. She said if she anticipates consuming alcohol, she doesn’t carry her weapon.
But leaving the 2011 amended language in the bill will torpedo one of the key arguments against it, Fiore said. “I’m being respectful and thoughtful and showing an area of compromise.”
The compromise, however, may not sit well with gun rights advocates, who believe restrictions on carrying weapons only serve to disarm potential victims and advertise the fact they are not armed. The implication of the restriction — that gun owners aren’t responsible when it comes to firearms and drinking — will also irk some.
And whether that compromise will help the bill’s chances remain to be seen. AB 143 is co-sponsored by five lawmakers who sit on the 12-member Judiciary Committee (they are Assembly members Jim Wheeler, R-Minden; Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas; Ira Hansen, R-Sparks; Richard Carrillo, D-Las Vegas, Wesley Duncan, R-Las Vegas, and James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas). With Fiore’s vote, that’s fully half the committee.
A hearing on the bill is expected later in the session.