As We See It

Shootings will spark new debates for gun-friendly Nevada

The elementary school shooting at Newtown, Conn. is resulting in new gun control debate across the country, including Nevada.
Photo: Shannon Hicks/Newtown Bee

In recent decades, the gun control debate in Nevada’s Legislature has been focused on one front: How far should the state loosen restrictions on gun owners’ rights?

But now, in the wake of last week’s elementary school shooting in Connecticut and a 2011 shooting that left four dead and 14 wounded at a Carson City IHOP, one lawmaker said he wants to address the “third rail” of Nevada politics.

“I think the expansion of gun rights has reached its apogee,” said Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I look forward to spending the next decade trying to limit weapons of mass destruction.”

His statements reflect a break from Nevada Democratic and Republican party platforms, which historically have stressed a strict adherence to the rights of gun ownership. Support for the Second Amendment’s right of individual gun ownership has a strong history in Nevada, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been regarded as a pro-gun lawmaker.

But on Monday, Reid called for a change in the “laws and culture that allow this violence to continue to grow” and said “every idea should be on the table as we discuss how best to do just that.” He stopped short, however, of calling for a national discussion on gun control.

Any effort to stir up a gun control debate is sure to get a response from both sides of the aisle. Gun rights supporters packed a legislative committee meeting this summer and successfully stopped a discussion pushed by Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, about assault weapons, like the AK-47 used in the September 2011 shooting inside the Carson City IHOP—2.4 miles from the Nevada Legislature.

“With Nevada’s history with hunting and ranching, there’s a legitimate use for guns. And we also have one of the most expansive concealed weapons laws in the country,” Segerblom said. “But we’ve become increasingly urbanized. We have to recognize there’s no reason to have assault weapons and concealed weapons on campuses.”

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