State Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, said on “Nevada Newsmakers” Tuesday that Democrats will co-sponsor a bill to ban bump stocks in the 2019 Legislature, if the federal government doesn't act first.
It probably won’t be the only gun law Democrats will sponsor in 2019 and in the wake of the mass shooting Oct. 1 in Las Vegas.
“To be absolutely clear, by requesting this single bill draft, it doesn’t mean there won’t be a broader conversation about reasonable gun management in the state of Nevada,” Ratti said.
“There is broad-based support in the American public for many different kinds of common-sense gun legislation, so I am absolutely certain that there will be a broader conversation than just bump stocks,” she said.
She hopes more Republicans will sign on to gun legislation, even though they have not as a party supported past efforts to place restrictions on gun sales with background checks.
Nevada has long had an independent, libertarian tradition of gun ownership.
“Many Nevadans have been impacted by this tragedy, deeply,” Ratti said. “So we may see that it is not the partisan issue it has been in the past. Maybe I’m being idealistic, maybe I’m being Pollyanna. But I don’t want to assume that just because somebody has checked a certain box on a political party, that what happened in Las Vegas doesn’t touch them in a way where they might reconsider the positions they have held in the past.”
Congress could act on banning bump stocks before the 2019 Legislature meets, Ratti said. In Nevada, the Legislature meets every two years with the 2017 session ending in June and the next one set to begin in February 2019.
“It is my sincere hope that this is solved at the national level,” Ratti said. “But we wanted to make sure our national leaders, as well as the community, know that if Congress doesn't take action, that as Nevadans, we were prepared to.”
Bump stocks, available for $100-$200, are devices that use the recoil of a semiautomatic firearm to rapidly pull the trigger, mimicking automatic fire.
“Having a piece of equipment that can turn a rifle that isn’t illegal into something that would otherwise be illegal, seems pretty straightforward,” she said.
Ratti addressed concerns that the Las Vegas mass shooting might be too recent to talk about political implications.
“Certainly I know that many people will say that it is too early, that they are still grieving and that we should not be talking about policy,” Ratti said. “But what I am finding is that there are an equal number of individuals who are traumatized because they see their legislators continue to not take action. So, it is a fine line as a legislator.”
Ratti said she will also most likely reintroduce a bill she sponsored in the 2017 session to bar people convicted of stalking or are under an extended protection order for domestic violence from owning a gun.
"We made it through one house (state Senate)," she said about Senate Bill 387. “There were questions when we got to the second house, so I want to make sure that in that particular bill, we are having conversations with law enforcement and judiciary prior to the next legislative session. And if we can build a version that makes sense to people, I will probably be, personally, bringing that back.”
Ratti said she will support Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, a fellow Democrat, in the 2018 race for governor.
Republicans running for governor include Attorney General Adam Laxalt. The shootings in Las Vegas may put pressure on Laxalt after his failure to enforce the ballot question that required background checks for private gun sales, Ratti said.
“It is an area where there is a clear loophole,” Ratti said. “It passed in the state. It was a narrow majority, but it was still a majority. I believe there was already pressure on him, but yes, this amps up the pressure.”
Ray Hagar is a retired political journalist from the Reno Gazette-Journal and current reporter/columnist for the Nevada Newsmakers podcast and website, nevadanewsmakers.com. Follow Ray on Twitter at @RayHagarNV.