Assembly introduces 2 bills dealing with gun laws

Nevada Assembly bills mandate background checks for guns, allow concealed carry without permit

Associated Press
Assembly introduces 2 bills dealing with gun laws
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Nevada Assembly Democrats William Horne and Lucy Flores work on the Assembly floor at the Legislative Building in Carson City, Nev., Monday, March 11, 2013. Horne introduced a measure Monday that mandates background checks for private gun sales, bans the possession of armor-piercing bullets and imposes a tax on all firearm sales with proceeds benefiting mental services. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- A bill mandating background checks for gun purchases, prohibiting armor piercing bullets and taxing firearm sales was introduced Monday in the Nevada Assembly.

Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, introduced AB234. It was one of two bills dealing with guns introduced Monday. The other, AB232, is at the opposite end of the gun debate spectrum and would allow the carrying of concealed firearms without a permit.

"I believe in the Second Amendment rights, but like any other constitutional amendment we have, there are certain restrictions — the Second Amendment is no different," Horne told The Associated Press in an interview.

The bills join gun legislation previously introduced in both houses. With more bills on the topic expected in the coming weeks, most lawmakers have not publically chosen sides in the argument.

One portion of the bill, an excise tax of $25 on the sale of firearms and 2 cents per round of ammunition, will mean the bill needs a two-thirds vote of support in both houses to pass. The proceeds of this tax would be split evenly between two funds dealing with mental health and victims of crimes.

"Our mental health services here are inadequately funded. Also, we tend to neglect the needs of the victims," Horne said while outlining his intentions for the bill. "While this doesn't solve those problems, as a responsible gun owner I don't have a problem with this if I go to purchase another firearm."

Currently, private sellers of firearms can request background checks, but they are not required. AB234 requires private citizens to run a background check before selling a firearm to another citizen, unless that buyer possesses a concealed carry permit. It also creates an avenue for the seller of a firearm to be sued for civil damages if the weapon is used to harm someone and if the seller did not run a background check.

"While you think you know your neighbor down the street or somebody who answers your ad in the paper, you don't. I believe you have the responsibility to have them fill out a background check," Horne said. "There is no criminal component in this, but it's there to put them on notice that your actions by selling this gun could have some civil repercussions."

If the person does run a background check and legally sells the gun, they would be immune from such lawsuits even if the gun is used to harm someone. The checks can be done by taking a signed consent form to a local gun store.

The final component of the bill makes it illegal to possess armor-piercing ammunition in Nevada. Current statute bans the use and sale of these rounds, but there is a loophole for citizens to legally buy from other states and bring their purchases back to Nevada.

A second bill introduced Monday deals with concealed carry in the Silver State. Nevadans are currently allowed to carry a firearm in plain sight without a permit, but if the weapon is concealed the owner must possess a permit. AB232, introduced by Assemblyman James Oscarson, R-Pahrump, repeals the requirement for permits to carry firearms concealed.

Several other bills have been introduced in the Assembly and Senate this session dealing with concealed carry — including two efforts to allow concealed carry on school campuses. One of those bills would allow any permit holder to carry concealed on campus; the other only permits employees to carry concealed weapons.

Both bills were referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Another bill, SB221, introduced in the Senate last week, would require universal background checks and faster reporting of people suffering with mental illness into a federal database. It would also impose a duty to warn" on psychiatrists or psychologists, requiring them to notify law enforcement of anyone deemed likely to harm themselves or others.

The bills to be debated in the Nevada Legislature come in the wake of recent mass shootings around the country and the growing debate in Washington, D.C., over gun policy and mental health. More bills are expected in the coming weeks.

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