Tag Archives: Nevada legislature

Violence Leaves Home: Active Shooting Incidents and Domestic Violence

The report (pdf) from a joint FBI/Texas State University doesn’t have much good news for the absolutists of the National Rifle Association.  The study analyzed shooting incidents in the United States over the past 13 years and reported the following resolutions to the incidents.

The Violence

In 37 (23.1%) of the 160 active shooting incidents the shooter committed suicide at the scene before police arrived.  In 21 (13.1%) of the incidents an unarmed citizen successfully restrained the shooter.  In 2 of the incidents (1.3%) armed off-duty law enforcement personnel ended the threat.  In 5 of the incidents armed non-law enforcement citizens ended the shootings in which 3 shooters were killed, 1 committed suicide, and 1 was wounded.  For all the noise about arming everyone to the gunwales, only 5 of the 160 incidents ended because of armed citizen intervention.  No doubt the NRA ammosexuals would argue that if More Citizens were Armed, then More Incidents would have been resolved at the scene by a Citizen Shooter.  This conclusion is actually counter-intuitive.

More people firing more rounds in an active shooter situation doesn’t make anyone safer.  The NRA logic requires that we ignore a crucial part of the equation – the bystanders.  The fantasy that our Citizen Shooter will “take out the bad guy” requires that the scene be something out of the OK Corral mythology during which bystanders fled to safety, or possibly that the Citizen Shooter is so marvelously competent that no bystander or witness will be in peril of flying rounds of ammo.  Nor does the Citizen Shooter image crack through the actual numbers – in 13.1% of the incidents an unarmed citizen was successful and in only 3.1% was an armed citizen successful.

The Domestic Violence

However, there’s more to this analysis than the augmentation of what we already know – more guns doesn’t solve the problems – there’s a link between active shooting incidents and domestic violence. From the report:

“Of note, male shooters also acted violently against women with whom they had or once had a romantic relationship. In 16 (10.0%) of the 160 incidents, the shooters targeted current, estranged, or former wives as well as current or former girlfriends. In 12 incidents, the women were killed; in 3 incidents, the women sustained significant injuries but survived; and in 1 incident, the shooter could not find the woman.  While perpetrating this violence, an additional 42 people were killed and another 28 were wounded.”

Not to put too fine a point to it, but 42 people died and 28 suffered gunshot wounds because the ‘domestic violence’ got out of the house.

Here’s the point at which NRS 33 (Injunctions) kicks in.  Nevada statutes allow for an emergency restraining order or a  temporary restraining order, with courts available 24/7 to issue emergency orders barring the ‘adverse party’ from threatening the victim or victims, being in the victim’s residence, and doing any harm to pets.  [NRS 33.020]  But, the TRO doesn’t get the guns out of the house. The TRO doesn’t take the guns away from the ‘adverse party,’ and if the aforementioned ‘adverse party’ is of a mind to participate in something like the 16 incidents in the FBI report, then there is nothing in the law to stop him.

It is only when an extended order of protection is sought that anyone starts paying attention to the firearms.  NRS 33.031-033 offers the ‘adverse party’ potential shooter some protection for his firearms.  Here’s the catch:

“ A temporary order can last up to 30 days.  However, if you file for an extended order at the same time that you file for the temporary order (or at any time while the temporary order is in effect), the temporary order will last until the date of your hearing for an extended order (which could be up to 45 days from the date you file for the extended order).*1 [WLOrg]

That’s up to 45 days for our hypothetical ‘adverse party’ to retain the firearms, and perhaps decide to use them.  This gives the ‘adverse party’ his day in court to protect his ‘gun rights,’ but on the other hand it gives him possession of lethal weapons for up to 45 days.  In a much safer world the firearms would leave his hands during the imposition of the emergency restraining period.  The ammosexuals would no doubt start sputtering.

But, but, but “I have a Constitutional Right to my Gun?”  “You can’t take it away from me before I have my day in court!”  The Day In Court Argument is logically fragile.  I have a Constitutional Right to my own religious practices, however if I decide to become a practicing Aztec and select victims for sacrifice to the Sun – there’s little doubt the state would make every effort to stop me well before my court date.

In a safer world the guns would be gone during the period  specified by the temporary restraining order.   There’s no requirement that the ‘adverse party’ show up at the TRO hearing, but there’s nothing to prevent it either?  In our not-quite-so-safe world those guns can be in ‘adverse party’ hands for up to 45 days.  There are at least 70 casualties mentioned in the FBI report which might have been prevented by tougher injunctions, and more vigorous enforcement of those orders?

There is a compromise position which the Legislature might consider.  How might domestic violence in Nevada be mitigated if we agreed that if the domestic violence incident included shooting or threats of shooting, then the emergency protection order could include the dispossession of firearms? Or, if the ‘adverse party’ was the perpetrator of previous acts of violence then the firearms would be handed over to law enforcement for storage pending further actions by the court?   It would seem logical to take the escalation factor into account when dealing with those who tend toward assault and battery.

Nevada’s laws aren’t the worst in the nation, but they could be better, and more focused on preventing active shooter violence – something for the next session of the Legislature to consider?

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Bits and Pieces: Tesla, Titus, Heller, and Amodei

Jig Saw Puzzle ** It’s a done deal. TESLA’s coming to Nevada, brought to us by $1.2 billion worth of ‘incentives.’ [RGJ]  Meanwhile, watch that multiplier! The state is assuming a 2.5 multiplier for revenue generation, i.e. for every one direct job with TESLA there will be 2.5 ancillary jobs created – that’s a big multiplier. [RGJ] See also [LVRJ]

**  Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1) asked the VA to move its regional office from Reno to Las Vegas. [LVRJ]  Much as it might pain a northern Nevadan to say so, but the Las Vegas metropolitan area does have more of the 246,000 Nevada veterans than those living in the north, [VA] and the northern office hasn’t covered itself in glory. [LVRJ]  I’d not want to hang by my hair waiting for a definitive answer from the new VA leadership.

** From the Department of No Surprises:  Senator Dean Heller (R-American Bankers Association) voted against the cloture motion to consider S.J. Res. 19, a bill to propose a Constitutional amendment to allow the Congress to enact meaningful campaign finance reform.  Senator Heller was one of 42 (all Republican) votes to continue to filibuster any attempt to overturn the decision in Citizens United.  [roll call 261]

Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) voted in favor of H.R. 3522, a bill which would allow insurance corporations to offer small businesses group  insurance plans which DO NOT meet the standards for comprehensive health insurance coverage for their employees under the terms of the ACA.  [RC 495]  One organization summed up the problem with the bill:

“This legislation would allow health insurers to continue offering coverage outside of the insurance marketplaces established by the health law even if those plans do not comply with its coverage requirements. In addition, the inferior plans that would be allowed to continue under Representative Cassidy’s bill discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, force women to pay more than men for the same coverage and impose annual caps on the amount of care received by enrollees.” [NCPSSM]  (emphasis added)

Those three issues, pre-existing condition discrimination, gender discrimination, and junk policies with capped coverage are some of the main reasons the ACA was necessary in the first place.

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Filed under Amodei, Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Nevada economy, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, nevada taxation, Titus

Nevada: Vote Like Your Right To Vote Depends On It

Ballot BoxThere’s one Nevada political race which hasn’t attracted as much limelight as might be justified.  That would be the race for Secretary of State.  The Secretary of State’s office has authority over elections and voting, and the implementation of Nevada election laws and regulations.  The Nevada Republican Party has already put citizens on notice that it intends to flog the Election Integrity Mule all the way to the polls.

Here’s their 2014 election platform statement:

“We advocate proof of U.S. citizenship and residency at the time of voter registration and requiring government issued photo ID at the time of voting.  We oppose same day voter registration to preserve election integrity.  We strongly support all electronic voting systems having a voter verified paper audit trail, used in the event of a recount.”

Look closely at the first sentence.  Yes, everyone supports the idea that a person is a U.S. citizen, and is a resident for the purposes of voting.  And, yes if a person does the registration paperwork to vote in Nevada a government issued ID or driver’s license is required. [NVSoS] If a person doesn’t have a government issued ID or driver’s license then the individual must register in person at the county election office, clerk or registrar. [NVSoS]

Once the paperwork is filed and the voter is included among those eligible to vote in Nevada, when a person goes to the polls the burden of proof to refuse that individual a ballot is on the government — not the individual.  It is up to the government to demonstrate you are not eligible to vote — it is not up to you to prove that you are.

So, here the second part of that sentence comes into play.  Under the Nevada Republican scheme of things, not only does a person have to prove citizenship and residency during the registration process, BUT the person must also prove he or she is eligible to vote at the polling place.  In other, unminced words, the burden of proof is now shifted from “you are eligible to vote unless the government can prove you aren’t” to “you are not eligible to vote until you prove you are.”

Since voting irregularities are illegal, what the Nevada Republican Party is advocating is a system in which you are NOT presumed  innocent until you are proven guilty, you are presumed guilty until you can prove you aren’t.  [Extended discussion here]

The second sentence doesn’t make much sense. If you have proof of citizenship and residency a few days before an election, wouldn’t you have it on election day?  Should there be issues regarding either element there’s always recourse to the provisional ballot.  The only thing that same day registration actually does is make voting easier and more convenient.

And all this in the interest of providing ‘election integrity.’  Nor is this a recent idea.  ALEC and its allies have been shoving the concept of increased corporate influence and decreased citizen participation for some time — and they do have Nevada allies. [DB]

There was an effort during the 2011 legislative season to enact a voter photo ID law. [DB] Legislators Roberson, Hardy, Hansen, Woodbury, Stewart, and Hambrick were the Suppression Six.  Among the bills they sponsored or supported were AB 327, AB 341, AB 425, AB 434, and SB 374.

State Senator Barbara Cegavske added her own bill to the mix, AB 311 jointly sponsored by Hardy, Sherwood, Hansen, Munford, Gustavson, and Halseth.  The bill would have eliminated all early voting in Nevada elections.

Another bit of red, white, and blue fearmongering was addressed in 2011 by SB 178, sponsored by Gustavson, Hardy, McGinness, Roberson, Settelmeyer, Hansen, Ellison, Goedhart, Goicoechea, Hambrick, Kirner, and McArthur.  The bill was a rather blatant bit of immigrant bashing, with whispers of “illegals” voting in the toxic mixture.

During the 2013 session of the state legislature there were another spate of bills regarding photo ID statutes and other means of making voting less convenient and more restrictive.  There was SB 63 (photo ID), SB 367 (repetition of immigrant bashing  SB 178/2011) , AB 216 (Photo ID) sponsored by Sen. Gustavson, Hansen, Wheeler, Ellison, Hambrick, Fiore, P. Anderson, Grady, Livermore, and Stewart.  AB 319 (Photo ID) sponsored by Stewart, Hambrick, Hansen, Duncan, Grady, Hardy, Hickey, Kirner, and Livermore.

And what of making voting more convenient?  During the 2013 legislative session, AB 440 was passed which would have extended the period for voter registration. The bill passed the Assembly on a 25-16 vote. [NVLeg] It passed the Nevada Senate on a 11-10 vote.  The Nay votes came from Brower, Cegavske, Pete Goicoechea, Gustavson, Hammond, Hardy, Hutchison, Ben Kieckhefer, Roberson, and Settelmeyer. [NVLeg]  The bill was vetoed by Governor Sandoval.

There appear to be two outcomes the Nevada Republican Party would very much like to see in the upcoming 2014 elections.  The first would be to control the State Senate, and the second might very well be to elect State Senator Barbara Cegavske as the new Secretary of State.

Democrats in Nevada would be well advised to vote in 2014 as if their right to vote depended on it — given the platform, the previous legislative efforts, and the voting records of Nevada Republicans in the Legislature, Senator Barbara Cegavske in particular — it might.

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Filed under Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

Nevada Primary Election Results Link Here

Ballot BoxWant all the election results from the 2014 Primary?  The Secretary of State’s Office has them all right here.   Dig away to your heart’s content!

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The Great Food Fight of 2009

Food trayA prison is a building in which people are legally confined as punishment for a crime. A Penitentiary is a place for socially sanctified punishment, reformation, and discipline.  There’s just enough difference between the two definitions to create some controversial space.

If the function is purely disciplinary then the absence of educational, mental health, and reformatory services isn’t all that important.  However, this perspective ignores an obvious reality:  Most of the individuals incarcerated by the State of Nevada are going to eventually be released.

Of the 13,110 inmates reported as of November 28, 2013:  0.63% have an “active death sentence.” 21.42% are serving an “indeterminate,” or life sentence.  [DOC pdf]  Therefore, 77.95% of those currently residing in Nevada’s prisons are going to return to general society.  We know they were car thieves, or drug sellers, or spousal batterers, or whatever sort of felon when they were sentenced.  The question which needs to be asked after sentencing is — What are they going to be when they get out?

The Exemplary 2009 Food Fight

In October 2013 Corrections Director Greg Cox,” noted that per inmate costs are $19,907 a year, which he said was “on the low side.” California inmates costs are $24,000 per inmate, he added. Nevada inmates are allotted just $2.54 per day for food, with the same menu used at all prisons.” [LVRJ]

For those of the “prison perspective the $2.54 is too much.  In 2008 Republican legislator James Settelmeyer took his cue from Arizona, proposing further food service cuts:

“Settelmeyer, like many fans of harsher prison settings, points to the work of Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who likes to brag he feeds inmates for 30 cents a day, even though the truth is something more like $2 and some change. Arpaio has managed to cut back food costs, Settelmeyer said, and “make prison just a little bit less enjoyable.” [LVSun]

Thus Assembly Bill 228 was introduced in the 2009 session of the Nevada Legislature.  The confluence of diet and punishment emerged in the committee hearings.  [NevLeg pdf]  Assemblyman Horne asked about the differentiation between high risk inmates (who spend about 23 hours locked in) and those in lower risk categorizations (who are allowed more time out of their cells.)  Indeed, prison would be a ‘less enjoyable’ experience for those who could assemble with others for meals, as opposed to being in their cells for a distribution of a cold breakfast.  Horne noted that ‘privileges’ such as being allowed yard and meal time was a tool used by prison management to promote cooperation, and that the removal of such ‘tools’ would create both morale and management problems.

Secondly, Horne ask about the procurement process, observing that local businesses were the ones supplying the breakfast items, and suggested that the loss of these contracts would result in a decline in the revenues for local businesses.  Nevada, unlike some neighboring states, purchases food products locally.

A third major cautionary segment concerning the Arpiao Promoters came to the fore when those who were actually involved in prison food service spoke of food handling and transportation issues, and nutritional issues such as finding a protein substitute for eggs — at possibly greater expense.  The hearing closed after Assemblyman Settelmeyer agreed to receive several friendly amendments and others offered to secure more information.  The bill died in committee.

If nothing else, the 2009 Food Fight illustrated the difference between the theoretical and ideological arguments of the Tough Guy approach — punishment first — elements, and the perspectives of those who actually have to deliver food services to the prison population.  First, Settelmeyer and his supporters were careful to couch their proposal in “cost savings” language.  Food, Settelmeyer observed, should not be used as a form of punishment.  However, the actual cost savings became less clear as the practical details involved in the actual delivery of food to such institutions as the High Desert prison were explained.  Nor was the cost savings any more apparent when food service professionals tried to explain the nutritional basics for any institutional meal plan.  The question was not revived in the 2013 session.

The low tier-high tier differentiation between prisoners in a single institution as described in the Food Fight of 2009  may also mirror the larger systemic situation.  The last audit report published for 2010-2011 (pdf) indicates that 17.32% of Nevada’s prisoners were “minimum security,” and another 61.62% were “medium security” inmates.  17.85% of inmates were categorized as “close security,” and only 3.22% were said to require “maximum security.”  Thus, some 78.94% of Nevada inmates required less than close or maximum security — the form of imprisonment most often imagined by proponents of the Tough School.

Alternatives

Taking a step further — there are alternatives under which the state of Nevada would have even fewer inmates to house and to feed.  For example, the maintenance of Mental Health Courts could be utilized to screen those whose psychological/psychiatric issues are better addressed by hospitalization or out-patient treatment than in a prison context.  Likewise the expansion of Veterans Treatment Courts could better serve former members of the armed forces who are suffering from service related trauma, substance abuse issues, and other mental illness concerns.

Speaking of Specialty Courts, “Nevada has 46 Specialty Court programs: 29 urban and 17 rural programs. These 46 programs include 17 adult drug courts including, diversion and child support, 3 family drug courts, 3 mental health courts, 6 juvenile drug courts, 2 prison re-entry courts, 6 DUI courts, 5 hybrid DUI/drug courts, 1 prostitution prevention court, 1 veterans treatment court, and 2 habitual offender courts.” [NVJS] What might we achieve if we allocated more resources to these Specialty Courts?

We might also take a look at the way we prosecute individuals in Category B felonies, for which there is a one year minimum to twenty year maximum sentence in Nevada.  One element is that a person has been convicted of “multiple felony convictions.”  Granted that gang recruitment is nothing we want to encourage, but a person could be incarcerated under Category B for a combination of gang recruitment by an adult plus setting fires to some unoccupied structures or landscaping (third degree arson).  Under the expansive definition of Category B’s “multiple” concept a string of drug possession convictions could result in “multiple felony convictions.”  If we’d step back from the Throw the Book at them mentality, and seek alternatives such as Drug Courts, and more emphasis on rehabilitation services, there might be fewer Category B felons in need of housing by the state of Nevada.

In short, Nevada’s prison population trends are generally downward, thereby keeping the budget pressures from building as they did in 2010.  Some thought expended on how to resolve issues leading to criminal behavior AND reducing the costs of incarceration would be a good exercise in the 2015 legislative season.

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Because we don’t count it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count

Question MarksWe know that as of November 28, 2013 there were 13,110 individuals incarcerated by the Nevada Department of Corrections.  We know that the average age at intake (median) is 32 for men and 33 for women.   We know that 12,856 are categorized as “in house” population.  [NVDC pdf] Further, we know that 91.63% of our prison population is male, 8.37% female; and, 45.56% of the population is white, 27.85% are African American, 21.69% are Hispanic, with 1.76% Native American.

What we don’t know may be more revealing.  How many of these inmates suffer from mental illnesses?  How many of them have physical disabilities?  From the 2011 Annual Audit (pdf) of the Nevada Department of Corrections we can learn that there are two institutions designated “Medical Centers” for the NVDC,  and one designated Mental Health Center.  There are three Substance Abuse Treatment centers, and one designated Geriatric Unit.

The Nevada Department of Corrections describes its medical services as follows:

“Each major institution has a medical and dental clinic and some infirmary capacity.  There are two institutions with on-site acute care infirmaries with approximately 91 infirmary beds.  The medical staff engages in over 600 patient care contacts each day statewide.  The Medical Division provides primary care at each institution and on-site clinics are held periodically with outside specialists such as cardiologists, surgeons, and gastroenterologists.  The Medical Division also provides hospitalization in community hospitals when necessary.”

Again, this information tells us the outline of services available for treating inmates in Nevada prisons, but it doesn’t give us the numbers of individuals treated.   What we don’t know renders the related issues cloudy.  For example, there’s the uncomfortable estimate floating around that of 2010 there were 9.8 seriously mentally ill persons incarcerated for every one who was being treated in a mental health facility.  [NPW]  If this is accurate then it does tend to encourage the conclusion that we are more likely to lock up our mentally ill than to hospitalize them.

The Department of Corrections reports that there is a $9.29 average cost for medical services provided per inmate.  [NVDC pdf]  Administration costs $4.77 per inmate, and “programs” cost $1.46.

The NIMH reports, now somewhat dated, offer a dismal glance at that happens to — or for — mentally ill inmates:

“The Department of Justice’s Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities (2004) and Survey of Inmates in Local Jails (2002) also indicate that fewer than half of inmates who have a mental health problem have ever received treatment for their problem. A third or fewer received mental health treatment after admission. These rates differ depending upon the type of correctional facility.”

If we are having some difficulty interpreting the numbers associated with the treatment of mentally ill prisoners in the Nevada system, the screen goes blank when seeking information about the physically handicapped, the visually impaired or blind, and the deaf.

Some of the inmates who fall into these categories may qualify for Nevada’s initiative to deal with an aging prison population.  [CGAct] Again, what we don’t know is how many, and under what circumstances, those less than 50 or 60 years of age fare with services for disabled individuals in Nevada prisons.

Given the highly generalized,  outdated, or incomplete information publicly available it may be timely to call for some more specific, recent, and complete information about Nevada’s incarcerated population before the next session of the Legislature.

  • How many individuals housed in Nevada prison facilities are mentally ill?  How many of these are severe cases? Moderate cases?  Mild? Are there transitional programs in place for those returning to public life? Are these adequately staffed and funded?
  • How many non-elderly inmates are physically disabled?  Do Nevada prisons conform to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act in this regard?
  • How many non-elderly inmates are visually impaired or blind? Are the Braille programs in southern Nevada be replicated in the northern facilities?  Are these services adequate to maintain or enhance prisoner safety?
  • How many inmates are hearing impaired? Deaf? How many are prelingually deaf?  Are adequate measures and facilities in place to insure their safety and lines of communication?

Again, merely because there are some items we don’t count doesn’t mean the issues don’t exist, or that they don’t matter.

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Locked and Unloaded: Part Two – Drilling Down To Details

Nevada LegislatureWhen last we left this topic, the Nevada gun access statute was included with samples of gun storage laws from Massachusetts and California.

Let’s take a closer look at the Nevada statutes and examine some of the weaker points.

 NRS41.472 Imposition of liability for minor’s negligence or willful misconduct regarding firearm.
1. If a parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for a minor under the age of 18 years:
(a) Knows that the minor has previously been adjudicated delinquent or has been convicted of a criminal offense;
(b) Knows that the minor has a propensity to commit violent acts; or
(c) Knows or has reason to know that the minor intends to use the firearm for unlawful purposes,

and permits the minor to use or possess a firearm, any negligence or willful misconduct of the minor in connection with such use or possession is imputed to the person who permits such use or possession for all purposes of civil damages, and, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection 2 of NRS 41.470, that person is jointly and severally liable with the minor for any and all damages caused by such negligence or willful misconduct.

Notice in this statute there are  elements which must be established BEFORE a parent or guardian can be liable for any and all damage caused by a child who gets access to a firearm from the house.  The parent or guardian must know that the child has been held as delinquent by a court or has been convicted of a criminal offense AND knows that the youngster has a propensity for violence AND has prior knowledge that the youngster intends unlawful harm.

In summary — it’s all just a tragic accident for which the victims have no recourse in  court unless the parents of a juvenile delinquent, who are fully aware the scion has a propensity for violence, knows in advance that said offspring had grabbed the family firearm for the purpose of committing an unlawful act — assault, battery, homicide… If this sounds irrationally narrow, it’s because it is.

The first problem with this narrow statute is that it appears to absolve the parents of a youngster under the age of seven from all liability, since Nevada defines an “infant” as a person less than seven and therefore has no criminal liability for anything.   Thus, if a child under the age of seven is playing with a neighbor’s child and the “infant” gets hold of a gun and shoots the playmate — the parents or guardians of the “infant shooter” are not liable for the damage because the child cannot be a delinquent (being too young) and therefore cannot have been convicted of any criminal offense.

For a  child between the ages of 7 and 14 there is a “rebuttable presumption of no criminal intent.”  In other words, the burden is on the prosecution.

There is more comfort to the grieving in NRS 202.300 which specifically addresses children and guns, the first segment of which says:

“Except as otherwise provided in this section, a child under the age of 18 years shall not handle or have in his or her possession or under his or her control, except while accompanied by or under the immediate charge of his or her parent or guardian or an adult person authorized by his or her parent or guardian to have control or custody of the child, any firearm of any kind for hunting or target practice or for other purposes. A child who violates this subsection commits a delinquent act and the court may order the detention of the child in the same manner as if the child had committed an act that would have been a felony if committed by an adult.”

The liability now attaches to the child.  What of the parents? The statute continues:

“3. A person does not aid or knowingly permit a child to violate subsection 1 if:
(a)The firearm was stored in a securely locked container or at a location which a reasonable person would have believed to be secure;
(b) The child obtained the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person in or upon the premises where the firearm was stored;
(c) The injury or death resulted from an accident which was incident to target shooting, sport shooting or hunting; or
(d) The child gained possession of the firearm from a member of the military or a law enforcement officer, while the member or officer was performing his or her official duties.
4. The provisions of subsection 1 do not apply to a child who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States.
5. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 8, a child who is 14 years of age or older, who has in his or her possession a valid license to hunt, may handle or have in his or her possession or under his or her control, without being accompanied by his or her parent or guardian or an adult person authorized by his or her parent or guardian to have control or custody of the child:…”

Take a second look at this part: “The firearm was stored in a securely locked container or at a location which a reasonable person would have believed to be secure…” What would a “reasonable person” think was secure?  In the back of a dark closet? In a cabinet above the refrigerator? Where?  The last time the Nevada Legislature took a look at this problem came with the introduction of AB 192 on February 10, 1999.

AB 192 (1999) proposed the following change: “(3a)The firearm was stored in a securely locked container or at a location which the person believed or had reason to believe was secure;…”   There’s a nuanced difference between “securely locked container or at a location which a reasonable person would have believed to be secure,” and requiring a rational belief that the storage was indeed secure.  At any rate the change was too much for the 1999 Legislature and AB 192 went to the Committee on the Judiciary and was seen no more.  Subsequent sessions of the Nevada Legislature haven’t seen the introduction of any bill to modify NRS 202.300.

Another alternative to the blanket “infancy defense for parents” comes in the form of the willful and wanton disregard of the safety 0f others” statute.

NRS 202.595 Performance of act or neglect of duty in willful or wanton disregard of safety of persons or property; penalty. Unless a greater penalty is otherwise provided by statute and except under the circumstances described in NRS 484B.653, a person who performs any act or neglects any duty imposed by law in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property shall be punished:  1. If the act or neglect does not result in the substantial bodily harm or death of a person, for a gross misdemeanor.   2. If the act or neglect results in the substantial bodily harm or death of a person, for a category C felony as provided in NRS 193.130.

However, there isn’t much help here for victims of gun violence committed by children.  The neglect of duty must be “willful or wanton.”

And here we come to the second problem:  In order for the parents to be liable for the endangerment of others it must be demonstrated that their neglect must be beyond accidental. “It must be knowing and intentionally committed, or committed under circumstances evincing reckless disregard of the safety of the injured persons.” {Blacks Dict}

What does  reckless mean? Usually it means a person consciously disregards “a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the material element exists or will result from his conduct. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that, considering the nature and purpose of the actor’s conduct and the circumstances known to him, its disregard involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a law abiding person would observe…”  {Blacks Dict}

Now we have to ponder: What happens when our little playmates, both less than seven years of age, find a firearm in the house — “hidden” in the back of a closet —  if the neighbor’s child is injured (or Heaven forefend, killed) in the act of “playing with the gun,” is it “willful, wanton, and reckless” for the parents to have assumed the firearm was safely secured?

There’s plenty of time between now and the opening of the 2015 session of the Nevada Legislature to consider some of the following questions:

#1.  Is it fair to the victims of gun violence perpetrated by minors that practically no liability attaches to their parents or legal guardians for the actions of their children?

#2. If the answer to the first question is “no,” then what are the appropriate modifications to NRS 41.472 to remediate that? What modifications should be made to NRS 200.300.

#3. Would we be less likely to read or watch reports of accidental shootings of children, or shootings by children if NRS 200.300 were amended to require parents or guardians to store firearms in locked containers, with ammunition kept in a separate location? Even if such a requirement did not immediately lead to fewer tragedies, would the modification of NRS 200.300 offer the victims better recourse to the law in the instance of a shooting tragedy?

Such modifications will surely be met with the usual intransigence of the NRA and its allies, however, this is really not a 2nd Amendment issue.  No one would be prohibited from gun ownership by adopting any modifications or improvements on our current “access and storage” statutes — gun owners would simply be required to store weaponry more safely and securely.

Another common complaint from gun enthusiasts is that these laws are unenforceable.  That would depend upon the perception of enforcement — if in the wake of a tragedy such as took place recently at Sparks Middle School, and in 2006 at Pine Middle School, parents were held liable for the actions of their children might not more parents and guardians be inclined to more securely store firearms to avoid enhanced liability?

Those who purport to advocate on behalf of the victims of crime, and especially those victimized by gun violence, should be moved to consider how we might offer those victims more legal options for holding accountable those who make firearms all too accessible to youngsters who have not the maturity and judgment necessary to comprehend the nature of their actions.

Indeed, if we are going to attach the words “accountability” and “responsibility” to various and sundry issues associated with individual behavior, then it behooves us to start holding those individuals who allow juveniles access to firearms responsible and accountable.

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