Legislation /

Nevada Democrats Opt to Not Override Bill Restricting Gun Ownership for People Convicted of Hate Crimes

Senate Bill 171 would have barred anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun for 10 years

Nevada Democrats Opt to Not Override Bill Restricting Gun Ownership for People Convicted of Hate Crimes

Nevada’s legislature will not override a veto of a bill banning people convicted of hate crimes from owning guns.

Governor Joe Lombardo vetoed Senate Bill 171 and two other bills aimed at restricting the purchase and sale of guns.

I will not support legislation that infringes on the constitutional rights of Nevadans,” said the Republican in a statement released on May 17. “As I stated in my letters, much of the legislation I vetoed today is in direct conflict with legal precedent and established constitutional protections. Therefore, I cannot support them.”

Under the now-blocked policy, anyone convicted of a hate crime would be barred from owning a gun for 10 years.  

The governor said the bill “purportedly furthers the important objective of decreasing gun violence among those convicted of hate crimes,” but “would go much further than existing law by depriving individuals of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

In a letter to Majority Leader of the Nevada State Senate Nicole Cannizzaro explaining his decision, Lombardo wrote: 

Moreover, the limited nexus between certain misdemeanor offenses and gun violence makes it untenable to pass a law that immediately puts the defendant’s Second Amendment rights in jeopardy. This would effectively open the door to more laws restricting others convicted of gross misdemeanors from owning firearms to protect their homes and families. Many of the more violent and egregious offenses under Nevada law that are commonly associated with hate crimes can and should be prosecuted as felonies in the first place, especially when there is a connection between the underlying crime and the use of guns. It is a better solution to make these types of hate crimes felonies than to further penalize low-level offenders – especially when existing law sufficiently addresses the issue.

Lombardo previously served as the Clark County sheriff and won the gubernatorial election in 2022

SB 171 initially passed along party lines. Democrats have a supermajority in the Assembly and also control the state Senate. Despite this, Democratic lawmakers opted not to challenge the veto – to the disappointment of pro-gun control advocates.

Cannizzaro's move on May 29 to not attempt an override of the veto received no objection from her fellow Democrats or state Senate Republicans. The 13 Democrats would have needed the support of one Republican to successfully override Lombardo’s decision. 

Democratic officials have accused Lombardo of not taking necessary steps to protect state residents from gun-related violence.

Governor Lombardo sided with the national gun lobby over the public safety of Nevadans,” said Senator Dallas Harris in a statement published by 2 News. “Nevadans overwhelmingly support improving community safety with common sense gun violence prevention measures. At a time when hate crimes are on the rise and communities are increasingly targeted because of race, ethnicity, religion, and other immutable parts of their identities, we should be doing more to protect our citizens. Instead, the Governor has turned his back on Nevadans facing this epidemic of gun violence.”

In addition to SB 171, Lombardo vetoed Assembly Bill 354 – which would have banned firearms from being brought within 100 feet of a ballot box – and Assembly Bill 355 – which would have raised the legal purchasing age of semi-automatic rifles to 21.

The Nevada Republican Party celebrated the governor’s vetoes, calling the policies “a blatant attack on both the First and Second Amendment rights of Nevadans.”

“Democrats, rather than focus on real harms to public safety like increasing penalties on drunk driving or fentanyl possession, are instead choosing to demonize law-abiding gun owners,” the party said in a statement. “This trio of bills was rushed through with inadequate notice, only possible because the Legislature exempts themselves from Open Meeting Laws that govern all other governmental entities in Nevada.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*