Nevada has some of America's loosest gun control laws

The Las Vegas shooting underscores that it's really easy to get guns in Nevada

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 2, 2017 10:30AM (EDT)

 (AP/Alex Brandon)
(AP/Alex Brandon)

You've probably heard some variation of this expression: The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun.

Well, when it comes to gun laws, Nevada has some of the weakest controls in America — and yet none of that mattered when a bad guy with a gun decided to commit mass murder.

Nevada state law does not require residents to obtain a purchasing permit, register or license for either handguns or rifles and shotguns, according to the National Rifle Association's website. The NRA website also says that you don't need a permit in order to carry rifles and shotguns, although one is required in order to carry a handgun. Nevada also does not impose a mandatory waiting period before allowing residents to purchase a firearm, and the BBC reports that there is no magazine capacity limit for assault rifles.

In giving Nevada a "C-" on its gun laws, The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence's scorecard found that in order to make its state safer, Nevada would need to repeal its "stand-your-ground" law, impose a waiting period on gun purchases, enact a gun violence protective order law, allow local governments to pass gun laws and regulate unsafe handguns.

If initial social media reports are correct that the alleged shooter, Steven Paddock, used a high-caliber automatic weapon for the mass shooting, that would draw attention to the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which had made such weapons contraband but was allowed to expire in 2004. Those automatic assault weapons have remained legal ever since, despite efforts to renew the ban against them after the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting in 2012.

According to a report by a journalist from the Las Vegas Sun, there had been no previous "derogatory" interactions with Paddock, and there were 10 rifles discovered in Paddock's room at Mandalay Bay, which he had occupied since Sept. 28.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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