By Ken Ritter
LAS VEGAS — A conservative advocacy group wants quick action from a Nevada judge to block a statewide red flag gun law allowing firearms to be taken from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.
The group NevadansCAN is seeking an injunction against the law that is set to go into effect Jan. 2 amid a “Second Amendment sanctuary” drive in several rural Nevada counties where sheriffs have vowed not to enforce the law.
Red flag laws are designed to prevent gun violence by allowing weapons to be confiscated after a judge reviews an application by police or family members about a person’s potentially threatening behavior.
“It’s more than the Second Amendment. It’s an infringement on your right to due process of law,” said Tina Trenner of Pahrump, a radio show host in Las Vegas and spokeswoman for the Henderson-based citizen action network.
“When they take your gun you have no recourse. You have to go get an attorney to clear your name and get your guns back. That’s un-American,” she said Tuesday about the law.
State Attorney General Aaron Ford declined to comment about the lawsuit filed Thursday in Carson City District Court. A hearing was not immediately scheduled.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia currently have some version of what supporters call extreme risk protection orders. Measures in Nevada and Hawaii go into effect next month. The laws have survived legal challenges in Connecticut and Florida.
The lawsuit seeking the injunction blames out-of-state interests and elitists for what it calls a “gun-grabbing” law allowing “pre-crime protective orders.”
Other elements of Assembly Bill 291 have been enacted, including a requirement for firearms to be securely stored away from children, a ban on after-market weapon modifications such as bump stocks that can make assault-style rifles fire faster, and a lowering of the legal blood-alcohol level to 0.08 percent for people in possession of a gun.
Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, called the law a memorial to victims of the 2017 Las Vegas Strip massacre during which a shooter in a high-rise hotel used rifles equipped with bump stocks to kill 58 people and injure more than 850. It was the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.
The lawsuit says the law uses low standards of evidence to allow firearms to be taken away “not because a person has been convicted of a crime or adjudicated mentally ill, but solely on account of third-party … allegations.”
It cites a Nevada Supreme Court ruling in September that requires jury trials for people accused of misdemeanor domestic violence because a conviction can lead to confiscation of personally owned firearms.
Justices unanimously ruled that a jury should decide serious penalties that limit state and U.S. constitutional rights to own a gun.
Several cities have considered workarounds to that ruling including a halt to prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence cases and the adoption of ordinances letting convicted domestic violence abusers keep weapons.
Ford, the Nevada attorney general, said in a statement Tuesday the state red flag law should be enforced.
“Laws are presumed to be constitutional, and law enforcement agencies are by definition charged with executing and enforcing the laws of our state,” he said. “We have a sworn duty to do so until a court instructs us otherwise.”
Ford said law enforcement agencies that balk at enforcing the law could face lawsuits if someone is hurt or killed by gun violence involving a person who is under a court order not to have a gun.