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In a pattern as repetitive as is it is frustrating, the recent tragedy in Las Vegas has led to Nevada’s gun laws coming under scrutiny. In truth, many of the articles published in the “mainstream” media in recent days have missed the point entirely.
Under the auspices of preventing another mass shooting, the left have criticized almost every aspect of the state’s gun restrictions. The problem is that almost none of their suggestions for increased gun control would have prevented the massacre.
Gun Laws In Nevada
It is true that Nevada has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the US. The State does not require gun owners to have a license, or to register their weapons. All weapons that are not prohibited under Federal law – such as semi-automatic rifles – are allowed in Nevada. Further, the State does not control sale or transfer of any weapons. Carrying in Nevada is also relatively easy. Open carry is legal without a permit, and concealed carry licenses can be obtained from local law enforcement.
None of this means, however, that the state does not take it’s responsibilities seriously. There have been reports of individuals being fined for not carrying concealed weapons in a suitable IWB holster, which can be dangerous. Equally, Nevada is one of small number of states that has voted to require background checks for private sales of weapons, though this has not come into force yet.
The Case For Reform?
In the wake of the Las Vegas attack, some have blamed these relatively light gun laws for the massacre. In reality, however, it’s unlikely that reforming any of them would stop such shootings in the future. Let’s look at each in turn.
First, a federal or state-level ban on “assault-style” weapons is not going to stop those intent on mass causalities from getting hold of weapons like this. With so many AR-15s in the country anyway, it is not going to be hard for criminals to get hold of them, even if they are illegal. In fact, banning them is likely to just drive sales of such weapons underground, where they are even harder to trace.
Second, some have said that reforming the carrying laws in Nevada could help. Call me stupid, but I entirely fail to see the reasoning here. The types of rifle used in the shooting cannot be concealed, and so tightening up this law would seem to just criminalize responsible gun owners.
Lastly, the issue of background checks. This is an argument to which I am more sympathetic, though on balance I still do not think it would have made much difference in this case. In the present case, there seems little doubt that the shooter would have been able to obtain all of his firearms legally, even if there had been background checks.
The Actual Problem: Politicization
It’s not hard to see the real problem here, because it is one that arises every time there is a mass shooting. The left rushes to politicize such events without paying any attention to what actually happened. Seen from their perspective, any negative gun news is an excuse to campaign for further restrictions – if you are holding a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail!
From their perspective, the fact that Nevada has relaxed gun laws is a contributory factor to mass shootings, even if the two issues are not related. The fact that Las Vegas actually has a pretty low incidence of mass shootings over the past 50 years, as even the Washington Post admits, is conveniently overlooked.
Here at GND, we pride ourselves on being open to reasonable debate about gun control, but in truth it is hard to see any reasonable gun restriction that would have stopped the massacre in Las Vegas. Looking at ways to improve hotel security might be a good start, rather than using the event to justify further gun restrictions.