(Jim Clark) – 1926 was the last year Nevada had both a GOP legislature and Republican governor so it should come as no surprise that the current GOP majority is wasting no time passing proposed laws that have long been on conservative wish lists. Just in the first 3 weeks of this current session Republican lawmakers have hammered out bills to deny school administrators collective bargaining rights, foil trial lawyers who have gotten rich suing builders, annihilate laws that required taxpayers to subsidize union contractors bidding on public works buildings, tax credit scholarships (effectively the same as school vouchers) as well as many other proposals that never saw the light of day when Democrats were in the majority.
Making both local and national news is a proposal by Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore (R – Las Vegas) to overturn college authorities’ right to prohibit carrying of concealed firearms on campuses. It seems as though liberals find themselves on the horns of a dilemma in opposing her campus carry bill while simultaneously bewailing what they claim is an increase in sexual violence on college campuses. Fiore said: “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm I wonder how many men will want to assault them . . . the sexual assaults will go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.” Her quote was repeated in a New York Times story on a national move to legalize guns on college campuses so Nevada is now in the big leagues.
Former Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D – Las Vegas) retorted: “It is beyond unfortunate that Michele Fiore’s response to sexual assault is a Rambo-like mentality . . . to claim that sexual assault is only happening to ‘young, hot little girls and that arming people can alleviate this problem is a false narrative. As a mother of five daughters . . . I am offended.”
Kirkpatrick’s response puts Nevada and its legislature right smack in the middle of the current burning argument: “more guns, less crime” or “more guns, more crime?” Studies on this subject reveal a lot of heat but very little light. A national non-profit called the Violence Prevention Center has conducted studies and has concluded that an increase in the number of concealed weapon permits correlates with an increase in the number of deaths by gunshot. Still another national non-profit, the Crime Prevention Research Center, has produced studies showing that increased concealed weapon permits correlates with a reduction in all kinds of violent crime. There is little information publicly available on who manages the Violence Prevention Center and where their funding comes from. The Crime Prevention Research Center has a very distinguished board of academic experts and has a policy of not accepting donations from the National Rifle Association or other gun lobbies so based on that alone their position seems more tenable.
What does logic dictate? Nevada has pro-gun concealed carry laws. Permits are issued by county sheriffs and issuance is mandatory for applicants who qualify. Qualification includes: must be 21 or older; cannot have any history of convictions, domestic violence or mental incompetency; must pass a course in firearms training, and must demonstrate competency with the weapon. If a person meets all these criteria is it any more foolish to permit him or her to carry a concealed weapon on campus than in a mall or a movie theater?
Responding to Kirkpatrick’s comments Fiore said: “So I ask, what is your point? Are you opposed to the right to self-defense or are you arguing that rape is the new normal of attending college?”
I think Assemblywoman Fiore has the best of this argument. Moreover she appears to have the votes to get her proposal enacted into law.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on both the Nevada and Washoe County Republican Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.