Nevada Gets 'D' In Gun Safety

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The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has given Nevada's gun control laws a D grade for the seventh year in a row. But local police, gun safety advocates and gun merchants say Nevada should get more credit for its other preventive measures.

The Brady report grades the quality of seven state laws the organization believes are critical to preventing gun violence, particularly violence involving children. The national, nonpartisan organization responsible for the federal Brady Bill banning certain assault weapons gave 31 states grades of D or F for their gun control laws.

"This is a grade of the lawmakers and not so much the state," Diana Madarieta, Brady western regional director, said. "We want to give as much information as possible to people and want them to know their lawmakers aren't doing very much to protect children from gun violence."

Madarieta praised the preventive measures that Nevada police, safety advocates and gun store owners have taken to prevent gun violence, such as handing out free gun locks, providing safety education and enforcing laws that toughen penalties for those who break current laws.

But she said Nevada lawmakers should mandate the sale of child-safety locks with guns and must require all private buyers to go through criminal background checks, especially buyers at gun shows.

The organization also criticized Nevada for allowing people to carry concealed weapons with permits and for allowing juveniles older than 14 to possess rifles or shotguns in certain circumstances such as hunting without adult supervision.

The only A that Nevada got was for allowing cities to make their own gun control laws. The state got B grades for its laws to prevent the sale of firearms to juveniles and to prevent child access to firearms.

Nevada lawmakers said the state's anti-gun control climate makes it almost impossible to pass some of the laws the Brady Campaign advocates, especially considering Nevada's rural areas.

"I think it would be extremely difficult to get this legislation passed, it will provide an inconvenience on the honest citizen and do nothing to prevent gun violence," Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said.

Goicoechea also said he thinks it is a good thing Nevada law allows children who are ages 14 to 18 to earn hunting licenses, and then use rifles and shotguns on their own.

Critics of the report said the Brady Campaign should advocate more gun safety education instead of hammering for more laws.

Jackie Berman, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Safe Community Partnership's injury prevention specialist, said gun safety classes should be mandatory before someone can purchase a gun.

"If you purchase an automobile you have to show your driver's license, they are not going to let you just drive away the car," Berman said, adding, "I think when someone purchases a gun they need to learn how to use it safely and store it safely."

Las Vegas Metro Lt. Robert Duvall and several gun store owners echoed that opinion.

"Unfortunately, most people's idea of what a gun can do comes from what they see on TV," Duvall said. "People need to educate themselves on what a gun can really do."

Bob Irwin, owner of The Gun Store, said allowing a child to see a gun and explaining what it does and why it should never be touched often takes away the curiosity factor that might lead to accidents.

"Most kids go after guns because they don't know anything about guns," Irwin said.