Barring some recent exceptions including public schools and airports, Nevada has been an “open carry” state for as long as anyone can remember. It’s an arid, mostly empty land where ranchers talk “acres-per-cow,” not “cows-per-acre.” Help might be days away, and – thrown from a spooked horse and dragging by one stirrup – a cowpoke might have one last chance . . . providing his sidearm is still on his hip.
The kind of clientele who came to frequent the sawdust gambling joints of the desert oasis of Las Vegas 70 years ago didn’t mind running into the occasional cowboy with a sidearm, back when the biggest event in town was the horseback Hellzapoppin’ Rodeo & Parade. Heck, Benny Binion of the downtown Horseshoe Casino WAS a pistol-packin’ Texan.
But the urban corporate moguls who run Las Vegas today don’t think that way. Sinatra is gone, Dean Martin is gone, Elvis is gone. In a world with a fragmenting music and entertainment culture, they’re struggling to bring in the urban yuppies with celebrity chefs and hip-hop artists and topless swimming pools and X-rated hypnotists. The last thing they want is for those sheltered young urbanites to be scared, and they’ve got it in their heads that guns are “scary.”
So any local who’s been here awhile will tell you, your right to walk up the Las Vegas Strip – the crowded four miles of Las Vegas Boulevard that are home to most of the town’s major hotel-casinos – while openly packing heat is largely theoretical.
Try it, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police boys in beige (who in effect work for the casino barons) are likely to stop you, ask your business, “run your ID,” tie you up for 15 minutes, and let you go with a warning. Dare to walk on another hundred yards, and a new pair of Metro’s finest – maybe that pair of motorcycle cops staked out to fine you a hundred bucks if you try to make a long left turn on a short yellow light – are likely to stop you, ask your business, “run your ID,” rinse and repeat.
Why, in recent years most of the major Nevada casinos have even disarmed their own security guards, citing “the advice of their attorneys over liability concerns.”
You know where that leads. John Lott has been demonstrating for decades that “Gun-free zones invite mass shootings.” (See https://www.twincities.com/2018/11/26/john-lott-gun-free-zones-invite-mass-shootings/ .) And sure enough, that’s what happened in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017.
No room here to go into the many strange aspects of the 2017 mass shooting by former IRS employee Stephen Paddock at an outdoor concert next to the Mandalay Bay Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. For a glimpse into the odd police “investigation” into the inadequate security arrangements there, see my twin columns at https://www.vinsuprynowicz.com/?p=5790 , and https://www.vinsuprynowicz.com/?p=5804 .
Suffice it to say, for now, that another mass shooter managed to spend days stocking up his armory in a gun-free hotel zone – man, those “Do Not Disturb” signs sure work great! -- and it took nearly an hour after he started shooting before Metro police, or anyone else, broke down his hotel room door. (The “security guards” on scene were unarmed and minimally trained, for starters.)
A CONFUSING CHECKERBOARD OF LOCAL GUN LAWS
Anyway, our story today begins with the fact that over the years, from 1989 to 2015, Nevada voters and gun-owners worked hard to get a pretty good “state-pre-emption” on local gun-control laws.
As little as 20 years ago, it was perfectly legal to toss your loaded guns (cased or otherwise) in your car or truck and drive out to the safest ad hoc shooting areas in the desert hills and breaks way north of town, or (more recently) to the official county shooting range, also at the north end of town . . . AS LONG AS YOU STAYED IN LAS VEGAS. But if you crossed an unmarked boundary into the city of North Las Vegas on the way (which was almost inevitable) most folks didn’t realize you were now illegal – North Las Vegas Police could and would arrest you and seize all your firearms, since “loaded firearms in the passenger compartment” were illegal in the city of NORTH Las Vegas, only.
(Before the state pre-emption, “North Las Vegas said it was illegal to carry a loaded weapon in your car, and that included someone with a concealed carry permit,” recalls Don Turner of the Nevada Firearms Coalition. “And they had a law that they could seize and destroy that weapon; they didn’t have to give it back.”
The hard-won state pre-emption was designed to get rid of that confusing and conflicting “checkerboard” of local gun laws.
But due to the still shocking outcome of Nevada’s 2018 elections, which swept in a state Legislature which is two-thirds Democrat, along with (as governor) a gun-grabbing former Clark County Commissioner named Steve Sisolak, D-Caesars Palace (who had claimed he believed more gun controls were “unnecessary” as recently as 1996, but who changed his tune right quick when it proved necessary to win the 2018 nomination of the now hard-socialist Democrat Party), that state pre-emption is now as good as gone.
THE SOROS AND GIFFORDS LAWYERS WERE THERE TO EXPLAIN
Nevada Assembly Bill 291 again allows counties to pass their own, more onerous, California-style gun controls. It criminalizes firearm modifications, supposedly to ban “bump stocks,” but in fact with wording so broad you could conceivably become a felon just for changing out your trigger on a semi-automatic firearm. And it expands the ability of localities to create more “gun-free zones” (including libraries), which in the interest of accuracy should henceforth be called “disarmed-victim free-fire zones.”
Approved by the Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee April 12, not much now stands in the way of this Democrat Victim Disarmament wet dream becoming law in the Silver State. The state Senate is likely to OK the measure, and Michael Bloomberg’s buddy Gov. Steve Sisoklak is expected to sign it by June, just as he signed the state’s new “universal background check” legislation two months ago.
Don Turner, head of the Nevada Firearms Coalition, told me in late April that “AB 291 had only one sponsor” – 36-year-old Assemblycritter Sandra Jauregui (pronounced “Har-gay”) of Las Vegas, a former employee of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid who was raised in Hacienda Heights, California, and who was at the Oct. 1 shooting at the concert outside Mandalay Bay. “But the governor is behind it and it was also backed by (former New York City Mayor Michael) Bloomberg and by the Gabby Giffords Law Center (to Prevent Gun Violence.)”
In fact, Turner reports that when Jauregui introduced her bill, she promptly turned over the floor to attorneys from the Giffords Law Center and George Soros’ “Center for American Progress” to explain its provisions!
As originally written, the part of the bill supposedly designed to ban “bump stocks” would also have “made it illegal to drop in a trigger improvement; dropping in a competition trigger on a target rifle could have been considered ‘making it a machine gun,’ that would have been a felony,” Turner explains.
Turner says the sponsor agreed to change that language after testimony from an NRA representative and from the state Firearms Coalition’s lobbyist, Randy Thompson, though police and prosecutors will still have wide discretion to interpret language including “A person shall not import, sell, manufacture, transfer, receive or possess: (a) Any manual, power-driven or electronic device that is designed such that when the device is attached to a semiautomatic firearm, the device [:] eliminates the need for the operator of a semiautomatic firearm to make a separate movement for each individual function of the trigger and: (1) Materially increases the rate of fire of the semiautomatic firearm; or (2) Approximates the action or rate of fire of a machine gun, . . .” etc.
The Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trades (SHOT) Show, held annually in Las Vegas, draws about 50,000 attendees from those industries, with an economic impact on the town (hotel rooms, etc.) estimated by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau at $127 million. The show is currently scheduled to remain at the Sands Expo Center, just off the Las Vegas Strip, through 2027, though Mark Oliva, spokesman for the Connecticut-based National Shooting Sports Foundation (which runs the show) says that outfit is in close touch with lawmakers in Carson City about AB 291, and is watching it closely:
"This legislation is very worrisome," says Oliva. "The law needs to be clearly written so that a manufacturer or even a gunsmith customizing a gun" -- putting in a lighter trigger, for instance -- "knows whether they're safely within the law, and that's not the case, here. Does a lighter trigger 'speed up the gun's function'? We have exhibitors, and there are even firearms manufacturers in Nevada, that could be seriously impacted. We see serious concerns with the way this law is written."
“Clark County wants to ban guns from the Strip,” Turner says. “The October First issue is just a canard. Nothing they’re trying here would have prevented that shooting. . . .
The Clark County Commission, including Commissioner Steve Sisolak, “wanted to ban guns in the parks; they put up signs banning guns in the parks.” The Firearms Coalition sent them a firm letter pointing out that was illegal. “They want to be much more punitive.”
According to sworn testimony at the hearing, every Democrat politician on the legislative committee that OK’d Nevada’s “universal background check” bill this year received the maximum $10,000 from Michael Bloomberg. And Michael Bloomberg – the nanny-stater who famously banned outdoor smoking and large-size soda pops in New York City – endorsed now-Gov. Sisolak last September, shaking his hand in a “photo opportunity” and declaring Sisolak “has the guts to stand up for what he believes in -- on climate change and gun safety. That is why I am glad to support him in his campaign for Nevada governor.”
At least AB 291 was amended so “The ability to pass local gun laws will be just by county, now,” Turner says. “They were going to make it by municipality, but we testified that could result in more than 800 separate sets of gun laws in the state.
“Bloomberg put $22 million into the campaign for the universal background check” (a ballot initiative that Nevada voters enacted two years ago – mostly thanks to Clark County, of course – but which then-Attorney General Paul Laxalt declared unenforceable, since the FBI refused to take the background-check calls from individual gun stores, as the initiative would have required. The new Democrat Legislature promptly made minor changes and enacted the universal registration bill as Senate Bill 143, this winter. And who stood up and explained the bill to lawmakers when it was introduced? An attorney for Bloomberg’s “Everytown for Gun Safety”!)
Clearly, billionaire Bloomberg and his pals want every gun in America listed on a “form 4473” (the firearms dealer’s “yellow sheet,” which links the gun to its owner’s name and address by serial number) and then aims to change the law so every “4473” goes onto a national database so there’d be a searchable record of every gun in America.
Since “background checks” cost billions but have never been shown to prevent a single crime, nothing else can explain the push to have every private firearm transfer (including my giving a handgun to my niece as a gift for self-protection) recorded and linked to the new owner by serial number.
HOW THE GUN-GRABBERS GRABBED NEVADA
Look at Nevada on a county-by-county elections map. With the occasional exception of Washoe County/Reno in the Northwest, Nevada is a bright red Republican state, with a small triangle of blue – Clark County/Las Vegas – in the far south, near Hoover Dam.
Why is the Nevada state capital in Carson City is now aswarm with Democrat gun-grabbers, who – like the scorpion in the old folk tale, who stings the frog as he’s being ferried across the creek, dooming them both – seem intent on committing political Hara-Kiri over this issue, even after Bill Clinton warned them this is how they lost control of Congress in 1994?
There are four reasons.
First, as Don Turner of the NVFAC explains, the Gabby Giffords gun-grabbers and particularly billionaire Michael Bloomberg of New York City have targeted the state with millions of gun-control dollars -- millions that go a lot further in thinly-populated Nevada than they might in pricier markets like Florida or Texas.
Second? Sheer weight of numbers.
Just as “blue” Chicago tends to dominate otherwise more conservative Illinois, Las Vegas has grown over the past 70 years from a medium-sized desert cowboy town and refueling stop of 50,000 souls to a metropolis of over 2 million, easily dominating a mostly rural state with a total population of only 3 million.
Importantly, only a small portion of those Las Vegans were born in Nevada. Most are relatively recent emigres from places like coastal California (see Assemblycritter Sandra Jauregui) and Chicago, who bring their urban politics with them.
Nevada natives laugh about the way newcomers spend their first six months in Nevada hopping about with glee, praising their new home for its lower level of government regulation – why, there’s not even any state income tax! I can have a charcoal grill! Taverns are open 24 hours! And so much free parking! Then, “Californication” sets in, as they vote for the same species of gun-grabbing, tax-hiking socialist Democrats whose policies crashed the local economies and drove them out of their former hellholes.
The third reason Nevada appeared to go so “blue” in 2018 was probably the same reason Democrats recaptured the House of Representatives in Washington City.
Those of us who long ago gave up watching the “network news” may be partially immune, but clearly the 24-four-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week shrieking and droning of the formerly “mainstream” media (now revealed to be the transparent propaganda arm of the radical far-left Democrats) that “the walls were closing in” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLEchPZm318 ) , that Donald Trump – the brilliant trade strategist who has almost single-handedly turned the American economy around – was not only a racist, crotch-grabbing, incompetent buffoon, but also quite literally a Russian agent, about to be led away in handcuffs -- had a cumulative effect, especially on “non-partisan” voters.
Having sacrificed their remaining credibility in pursuit of that bald-faced lie, it’s unclear whether the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the major television networks – now shedding viewers by the millions – can maintain any such level of control over the minds of a substantial slice of the populace come 2020.
(Interestingly, Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale told CBS’ Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” April 28 that – along with New Hampshire, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Colorado – the Trump campaign considers Nevada to be back “in play” for 2020.)
But the fourth reason Democrats now appear to have a lock on California and its desert suburb, Nevada, brings up another subject on which Democrats and their captive national media continue to insist with open-eyed wonder, “500-pound gorilla? Here in the room with us? Where? I don’t see any gorilla”:
‘I’M AN ILLEGAL ALIEN, AND I VOTE!’
Lots of illegal aliens cast votes in Las Vegas. The evidence is not hard to find. See: “Noncitizens say union pressured them to register, then cast vote.” ( https://www.theblaze.com/news/2012/11/05/las-vegas-columnist-meets-noncitizens-who-say-union-pressured-them-to-register-then-cast-vote .) Or . . .
“Complaint filed over illegal alien voters – tens of thousands may have cast ballots.” ( https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/164341/complaint-filed-over-illegal-alien-voters-michael-volpe .) Or . . .
“It’s easy to vote illegally in Nevada.”
( https://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/opinion-columns/victor-joecks/its-easy-to-vote-illegally-in-nevada/ .)
In fact, how many illegal aliens are registered to vote in America? I took an in-depth look at the evidence two years ago, at: https://www.vinsuprynowicz.com/?p=4983
At http://phibetaiota.net/2017/02/gregg-phillips-three-million-illegal-votes-data-backs-up-assertion-by-donald-trump-analytics-algorithms-and-hundreds-of-millions-of-data-points/ , Gregg Phillips reports his groups, AutoGov and TrueTheVote, have now verified more than three million votes were cast in November 2016, illegally, by non-citizens – just as Donald Trump reported, to the widespread ridicule of the leftist press.
Back on Jan. 24, 2017 (at https://www.vinsuprynowicz.com/?p=4562) I detailed how the Culinary Union in Las Vegas pressures its tens of thousands of member busboys and hotel maids and other hotel/casino employees to register and then to vote (which can be done in Las Vegas with a casino employee card along with a water or power bill to show place of residence – no proof of citizenship required), irrespective of whether they’re in this country legally or can even speak English — even busing them to “early voting” locations, “encouraging” them to vote en masse for the union’s chosen Democratic slate.
The Culinary Union “represents over 55,000 hospitality workers in Las Vegas and Reno” — most in Las Vegas/Clark County, and brags those workers “come from 167 countries and speak over 40 languages.”
Yet in none of their self-congratulatory announcements about registering 34,000 members to vote do union officials mention any difficulties or frustrations growing out of the fact many of those members aren’t citizens . . . and don’t even speak (or read) much English!
A SMALL VICTORY
On the bright side, the Nevada Firearms Coalition (www.nvfac.org) won a victory in Carson City on April 23. An amendment to Assembly Bill 60 would have turned Nevadans found guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence at even the lowest level into “prohibited possessors.”
But the legislators got a lot of emails on that one, and it was quietly killed.
Vin Suprynowicz was for 20 years an editorial writer and syndicated columnist for the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal. He blogs at www.vinsuprynowicz.com.