SB 115 could be characterized as a vindictive move against gun owners because certain citizens stood up against the illegal actions of the Las Vegas Clark County Library District (LVCCLD, hereafter, the District) to prohibit openly carried firearms. Had the District acted legally and abided by state law, there would be no need for a bill. Instead, the District violated state firearm regulation preemption laws, violated Constitutional rights, and violated the statute governing library regulations. In the aftermath of public outcry and a lawsuit, Assemblywoman Bilbray-Axelrod, a trustee until March, stated that she intended to introduce a prohibition to prohibit firearms where they have always been legal. The District knew it could not ultimately prevail under the law, so it is seeking through an intermediary to ban a right its staff, administration, and trustees disagree with.
State law reserves the right to regulate where firearms can be carried entirely to the Legislature under a concept known as preemption. No local regulations are valid, any local regulations in existence to the contrary are required to be repealed, and persons adversely affected by enforcement of illegal rules are entitled to enhanced civil damages. Firearms carried openly, not concealed, are permitted in most public buildings. Open carriers are among the most well-behaved and law-abiding citizens who carry firearms for self-protection. The issues with the District are longstanding. The citizens who have openly carried at libraries did so not for purposes of protest, but for self-defense as a part of their daily routine. There are no safety threats, or any known history of danger, from any person legally carrying a firearm for self-defense in a library.
In California, for example, until 2015 concealed firearm permittees could carry concealed handguns on school campuses. This was eliminated in 2015, leaving it to the discretion of local schools. But when schools began granting permission for some to carry on campus, the California legislature introduced a bill to stop this. That is the danger facing Nevada; will those disinclined to gun rights gradually ban firearms as citizens exert their rights?
SB 115 could be characterized as nothing more than revenge for the public calling out the District, its staff, administration, and trustees, for violating state law. Passage of SB 115 would diminish the nature of our republican, democratic government, emboldening any official with power or connections to ban any form of behavior that personally offends that official. The law cannot, and should not, be changed simply because citizens stood up against officials who ignore and subvert laws they disagree with.
A PDF of the full open letter submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee is available here.