LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A bill that would ban the sale or possession of untraceable firearms, so-called ghost guns, has steadily progressed in the Nevada Legislature with full Democratic support, but Republicans and pro-gun groups have been pushing back fiercely claiming AB 286 is overreaching and violates Nevadan's Second Amendment rights.
During a contentious hours-long hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, both sides clashed over the bill's potential benefits and drawbacks.
"This is what we're talking about," Brady United representative Steve Lindley said, while holding up an unfinished lower frame of a Glock-like handgun.
He says the frame was roughly 85% complete and would only require a person to drill a few holes, shave a few extra pieces, and add the extra components like a trigger and barrel to have a fully functioning firearm.
The problem, he said, is the incomplete frame wasn't considered a firearm by the ATF and didn't need to be serialized, tracked, and records didn't need to be kept of any sale.
"The frame wasn't subject to background checks or any other regulations because it wasn't legally considered a firearm," Lindley said. "And that's why guns like it have been called ghost guns."
Dave Pucino with the Giffords Law Center testified in support of AB 286.
"I personally believe that ghost guns pose the fastest rising threat to gun safety in the country and in Nevada particularly," Pucino said. "It's a threat that can be addressed immediately and in significant measure."
Lindley said the prevalence of ghost guns has skyrocketed using gun seizure statistics from Los Angeles as an example.
He said there were no ghost guns seized by police in LA in 2000, and 40% of all seized guns were ghost guns in 2019.
Republicans on the committee like Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer didn't buy the arguments.
"You know, these guns are used in maybe one, two percent of the crimes," Settelmeter said. "Yet 42% of criminals actually buy their weapons on the black market, and that was quoted by the justice department. Yet, none of them made their own weapon."
Sen. Settelmeyer and Sen. Pickard argued that the bill despite an antique gun exemption would criminalize anyone who owned a gun without a serial number and punish hobbyists who build their own gun.
Pucino admitted that any person who wanted to make their own gun would need to acquire a manufacturer license to legally serialize their weapon.
Sen. Ira Hansen argued it all comes down to one thing.
"You get back to the fundamental 101 complaints about gun control legislation," he said. "And that is the people who are going to break the laws are going to break the laws and the people that obey the laws are the ones that get forced to do the things that otherwise they don't need to do."
If passed, all ghost guns except antiques and certain collectibles would need to be sold, surrendered, or disposed of before January 1, 2022.
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