Vegas News

Nevada Senate panel debates bill to ban ghost guns

Haven Daley / Associated Press

This Nov. 27, 2019, file photo shows “ghost guns” on display at the headquarters of the San Francisco Police Department in San Francisco. Gun control legislation introduced at the Nevada Legislature calls for banning “ghost guns,” those untraceable firearms often built at home and without a serial number.

CARSON CITY — Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui didn’t hold back when describing the importance of banning “ghost guns” in Nevada.

“Ghost guns are growing in popularity because they circumvent background checks and they are untraceable,” said Jauregui, who sponsored a bill at the Nevada Legislature that would ban these homemade guns.

Assembly Bill 286 would ban “ghost gun” firearms, which are often built at home through kits or through 3D printers and lack a serial number. 

It is a signature gun control measure for Democrats this session. And it’s even more personal for Jauregui, a survivor of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Strip.

The bill previously passed the Assembly on a 26-16 vote. No vote was taken Tuesday when the bill was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Jauregui, in closing remarks, reiterated comments she made in previous hearings when advocating for the legislation — the bill won’t stop all tragedies, but like seat belt and mask laws, is geared to decrease them.

“The point in all these measures, including Assembly Bill 286, is that it will stop some incidents, that it will save some lives,” Jauregui said.

It’s difficult to correctly estimate the number of “ghost guns” currently in circulation due to their untraceable nature, but data presented from the nonprofit Brady: United Against Gun Violence stated that 30% of the guns the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recovers in California are “ghost guns,” along with 40% of the guns recovered from the Los Angeles Police Department.

Data on the guns’ prevalence in Nevada is not available.

Jauregui brought up the December raid by the ATF at Polymer80, a Nevada-based company that manufactures ghost gun kits. Loran Kelley, the Polymer80 co-founder, testified that many people who own “ghost guns” are hobbyists.

“I think that is a misrepresentation of people who enjoy exercising their Second Amendment rights in this manner,” Kelley said.

Kelley’s arguments were similar to those of the bill’s other opponents, many of whom argue that it would infringe on Second Amendment rights and only impact law-abiding citizens.

David Pucino, a senior staff attorney with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said ghost gun owners would have until January to add serial numbers to their firearms.

“I want to note that while this bill would immediately address the problem of ghost guns flooding the streets, it would not immediately criminalize those who possess untraceable firearms that were initially legal when they purchased them,” Pucino said.

In the bill’s passage through the Assembly, lawmakers amended out a provision that would allow businesses to ban firearms on their property and implement harsher penalties for doing so. Jauregui did not explicitly discount revisiting that provision in other legislation after the bill passed the Assembly.

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