Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Library Open Carry Revenge Bill: SB 115 Senate Judiciary Hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 115 on Tuesday, Feb. 28. It went poorly for the supporters of the bill. Pretty much every leg regarding preemption that the  Las Vegas Clark County Library District made regarding their illegal gun ban. Let's be candid; this bill exists because of their actions and nothing else. 

Unfortunately, none of the speakers quite hit the nail on the head on why SB 115 was proposed. The obvious answer, well known to the readers of this blog, is that SB 115 is a mid-game rule change because LVCCLD knows it is going to lose the game. The meeting was filled with opponents and went long. Those of us on the other side enjoyed seeing the sponsor, Senator Denis, stutter in surprise when he apparently learned about the Flores suit. Apparently, Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod didn’t tell him about it. Funny how details like that get left out.

Or like how everyone who spoke left out the very obvious fact that the only reason SB 115 exists because the Las Vegas Clark County Library District willfully chose to violate state firearm preemption laws and library laws. There is no other controversy beyond simple distaste for armed self-defense here. No safety issue whatsoever was present or occurred; this was made abundantly clear. This is about the hurt ego of anti-gun Las Vegas library officials and trustees.

The NVFAC and NRA missed the mark, focusing on gun-free zones rather than preemption and the lawlessness of LVCCLD. The contention with strategy is a personal appeal to the legislators; after discussing the matter with NRA’s Dan Reed, it makes sense. Legislators will respond to the personal better than they will to more academic and abstruse points. However, the personal vendetta which is at the heart of this bill negates and safety arguments.

Far larger and much more concerning about this bill is why it was proposed. The truth about LVCCLD’s behavior and co-sponsor Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod would have been devastating and a great embarrassment. Much time and energy was wasted by speakers repeating "gun free zones are bad"; the point only needed to be once. Better coordination by speakers would have allowed more facets of the argument in opposition to be presented; we're all entitled to express our opinion (until the committee wants to leave), but rambling never helps (tell that to the HOA folks).

The Mr. Reed did point out the important fact that guns would be prohibited in parking lots and tied it in with the parking lot carry bill, SB 102, mysteriously dropped from Wednesday’s agenda, allegedly because a gun rights supporter called it “campus carry lite.” Strange that three small words would cause such fear and pearl clutching, but Democrats are a sensitive breed. Perhaps we must consider a vocabulary for when the legislators are in session.

The grilling by Senators Michael Roberson, Don Gustavson, and Becky Harris proved delightful entertainment. It became clear in short order that SB 115 is toxic; wrong motivations, wrong law, and opposed by the public (minus the brainwashed Everytowners and the Fudd they dug up).

As it was, Senator Roberson, sponsor of enhanced preemption last year, which made all this possible, handled that aspect of the issue spectacularly. Roberson accused the District of willfully ignoring preemption during a back and forth with library counsel Mr. Kennedy, who promptly tried blaming the judge. Judge Miley sidestepped the gun control issue, as is common with nearly all lower court decisions in these kinds of things.

Roberson explained his legislative intent regarding enhanced preemption that yes, it did specifically apply in this instance. He hammered the supporters and drove home the fact that this is indeed why Nevada needed to prohibit local gun regulations. Senator Denis admitted that he did not consult the Legislative Counsel Bureau, and seemed ignorant of the Bureau’s opinion from 2015 affirming the legality of open carry in public buildings. Denis et al. tried to argue preemption didn’t apply because the library was a special district…to which they were forced to admit their funding and members come from the city and county. The LCB may be issuing an opinion on that fact, which likely will not please the library district. 

Senator Gustavson expressed his fear that in following sessions, that the legislature could slowly expand gun free zones to make the right to keep and bear arms meaningless. Senator Harris called out Senator Denis for lying about policies and permissions.

Denis implied that library districts (and by extensions schools) could develop policies on who could carry, so, for example, a rural library could permit firearms. Not so. Either the senator is ignorant of his own bill or a liar. NRS 202.265, the law to be amended by SB 115, states that a "Person having written permission from the governing board of the public library..." may carry a firearm. As applied today to schools, permission must be specifically granted individually, not a blanket policy governing permission.

Denis implied that this may be amended, but as is the case in California, when schools started publicly giving permission for concealed carry on campus (campus carry was banned a few years back), the California Legislature threw a fit and now there is an assembly bill trying to take away that discretion. If Nevada keeps electing Democrats, this will probably be the ultimate outcome, especially if SB 115 sets the precedent that laws can be re-written when citizens exert their rights.

LVCCLD Development Director Danielle Milam admitted to their policy, but said that she thought it legal. It is important to note that she was forced into admitting this bill is necessary because it believes that it will lose preemption lawsuits, which means that their policy is currently not legal. It seemed very painful for the supporters.

Other library districts, proving my anecdotal point that librarians are anti-gun, came out of the woodwork to support the bill, including the formerly reasonable Henderson District and Boulder City, Churchill County, and Washoe County libraries.

The good-nature chairman, Senator Segerblom, graciously continued hearing testimony from the opponents, but cut the extended hearing off long before the public had its say. Strange that in venues dealing with much smaller matters, like city council meetings, usually everyone speaking on a controversial issue will be heard, even if the meeting runs to midnight.

To close, a point that was conspicuously and sadly absent from the debate (your humble blogger decided to try to shove his foot in the door anyhow) needs to be made and pointed out by the public. Everything LVCCLD has done has been illegal and has gone on for years. This matters far more than “gun free zone” arguments; the debate is much larger than that and the toxicity of this bill hinges upon the motive of retribution.

Administrators made their “Dangerous Weapon Policy” without approval of the board of trustees, a violation of state law, and which makes such policy unenforceable. By ignoring this issue, trustees that not only gave tacit approval to this behavior, but in July of 2016 they violated state law itself by passing an illegal firearm regulation themselves. LVCCLD chose to ignore multiple laws and at every turn has chosen to do the wrong thing. Their conduct here is reprehensible and without a single redeeming act.

Since the District can't get their way and the current laws are against them, now they want to change the law. You can't change the rules mid-game simply because you think you're going to lose. A victory here will confirm what anti-gunners have known for years; throw a tantrum and get your way. This is the very reason state preemption of firearm laws exist; to prevent unchecked abuses. This bill would set a terrible precedent that an official with the power or connections could simply re-write the law anytime citizens exercise a right.

In the case of this bill, any justification or argument in favor of this bill is moot. The evidence plainly shows this is a power grab and an act of vengeance against citizens who stood up against a rogue local government agency. Revenge is a terrible reason to pass a law. SB 115 needs to go into the dustbin of history.

UPDATED: Altered some commentary based on new perspectives that were not available yesterday.

No comments:

Post a Comment