(Don Turner) – As readers of Nevada News & Views know, the last legislative session was one of drama and behind-the-scenes dealing with the passage and death of several pro firearms bills.
As a case in point, Assembly Bill 282 was a four-part omnibus gun bill that swept up the language of several other bills. Its provisions included that carrying Concealed Weapons Permit (CCW) holder’s names and addresses would remain confidential; that qualified CCW permittees may carry any semi-automatic pistol (as any revolver) rather than having to qualify with each semi-automatic pistol a permit holder wanted to carry; allow for the carrying of firearms in Nevada State Parks, and amendment of Nevada law to meet the BATFE requirements for exemption from the $25.00 “Brady” background check fee for CCW permit holders.
As background, the permission to receive an exemption comes from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tax, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). It was removed for the citizens of Nevada in October 2005 when a BATFE review of the state procedure revealed Nevada law did not meet federal standards in that some sheriffs departments were not running background checks on CCW renewal applications.
The Nevada Department of Public Safety (NDPS) and the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association (NSCA) laudably entered into a memorandum of understanding with the BATFE to allow the Brady exemption to continue until there was a legislative fix. Without going into all the sorry details of the legislative dramas (most of them centered on fee increases –i.e. new taxes) it took from 2006 until July 2011 to fix this issue via AB 282.
The CCW program in Nevada is not a centralized program; rather the permits are issued by 17 different sheriffs overseen by the NDPS. The sheriffs have chosen to be represented by the NSCA as a unified group. That means that there are 19 organizations involved in the administration of the state’s CCW program. NRS Chapter 202 (regarding CCW) only authorizes NSCA two responsibilities: to set the standards for CCW training and to recommend other states whose CCW’s are to be authorized in Nevada. Nowhere in this statue does the NSCA by itself have any other statutory or regulatory authority. In accordance with NRS 202.369, only the NDPS may adopt such regulations as are necessary to carry out the provisions of law.
AB 282 was signed by the Governor on June 17, 2011 and became effective July 1, 2011.
In early August 2011, a month after the legislature passed the BATFE-required exemption language as statue, and upon inaction by the Sheriffs, the Stillwater Firearms Association in Fallon, NV, wrote a letter to the NSCA Executive Director and requested that NSCA take immediate action and ask BATFE to reinstate the legislative exemption for the background checks.
Then a curious thing happened.
The response from the NSCA Executive Director was startling. He said that the Nevada Sheriffs are responsible for the administration of the CCW permits in Nevada. It was at the request of the two major sheriffs in this state (Clark County and Washoe County) to postpone the formal legislative request to BATFE by NSCA so they could determine what impact the reinstatement of the exemption would have on their agencies. So the public will have to wait until NSCA takes the “appropriate action” at their September meeting. Mr. Adams also stated the 17 sheriffs would have to unanimously agree in order to make the request to BATFE!
In response to Mr. Adams, on August 9, 2011, the Stillwater Firearms Association wrote a letter to each Nevada Sheriff, which was published in Nevada News & Views.
Several of the Sheriffs immediately replied that they agree with Stillwater Firearms Association and that the exemption request should move forward immediately. Only Sheriff Gillespie of Clark County, wrote back to support the delayed vote at their September meeting.
CCW holders in the State of Nevada are upset by this action (or inaction) on the part of the NSCA Executive Director Frank Adams. They are questioning NSCA’s authority to allow the sheriffs to “vote” on state law. The people of the state, through their legislature, have spoken. Nevada law now meets the BATFE requirements.
The Nevada Department of Public Safety should immediately request the reinstatement of the exemption from the instant background check to the BATFE as soon as possible. Until then, citizens of Nevada holding valid CCW permits must continue to pay the $25.00 background fee (tax) until the NSCA decides that they must vote to implement state law.
(The author wishes to thank J. L. Rhodes, Chair of the Legislative Action Committee, Stillwater Firearms Association, for his efforts with this issue and for contributions to this report.)