NV Gov Joe Lombardo Loads up Veto Pen Against Democrats' Gun Laws, More Battles to Come

Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo. Credit: State of Nevada government website

As the final stretch of the Nevada legislative session comes to a close on June 5, Governor Joe Lombardo (R) is playing hardball with the Democratic majority and making swift use of the veto pen. As previously reported, earlier in May, Democrat leadership held a media event declaring “no compromise” to the Republican Governor’s initiatives:

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GOP Nevada Gov. Lombardo Tries to ‘Get S*** Done’ With Election Reforms Over Democrat Resistance

Gun Laws

On Monday, Gov. Lombardo cited the state constitution while issuing his first veto, on three pieces of gun legislation. In a statement, the Governor wrote:

I will not support legislation that infringes on the constitutional rights of Nevadans. Much of the legislation I vetoed today is in direct conflict with legal precedent and established constitutional protections. Therefore, I cannot support them.

The first bill would have changed the age to purchase or possess a rifle from 18 to 21, with an exception for members of the military and law enforcement. It also would make it unlawful to help any person under age 21 obtain a rifle.

The second Democrat-proposed gun bill took aim at “ghost guns” or as people who don’t use willfully spooky speech would call it: privately produced firearms (that has an 80 percent lower receiver).

A similar law was passed in 2021 under former NV Governor Steve Sisolak (D), which resulted in a slew of both state and federal courts lawsuits.

In April, Polymer80, a NV based “kit” manufacturer, won an injunction suspending the ATF’s Final Rule as a violation of the Gun Control Act U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor wrote:

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In keeping with the [injunctive] relief this Court has afforded to other similarly situated manufacturers, the Court also extends the injunction to Polymer80’s customers, who must be willing to transact business with Polymer80 without fear of criminal liability, in order for Polymer80’s relief to be effective.

It is likely that the Democrat-majority legislature simply didn’t like all the rulings of constitutionality and brought lower-register legislation once again as a work-around to what judges have ordered. Thankfully, Gov. Lombardo saw through their ironically evasive and dodging machinations. Oh, the Democrats decided the lower receiver issue wasn’t enough for one bill, so they added provisions to restrict the possession of a firearm near election polling stations, too.

The last of the three bills vetoed by the governor would have revoked firearms rights from people who have committed, or attempted to commit, a “hate crime.”

School Safety

On Friday, Gov. Lombardo threatened to veto the Democrat-sponsored version of a school safety bill AB 285, after Democrats signaled they would not be advancing the governor’s sponsored legislation, AB 330, removing restorative justice policies from 2019. School safety was in Gov. Lombardo’s campaign platform and has remained a top priority.

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Lombardo Chief of Staff Chris Kieckhefer says the advancing bill does not go far enough:

Gov. Lombardo will not sign legislation that allows a student to commit battery against a teacher and have the only mandatory punishment be a meeting with their parents. This is not good enough. We need to do better for our teachers and children.

Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D) indicated the Governor’s bill would receive a waiver after the deadline for passage was reached on Friday, allowing additional time for negotiations through the end of the session.

Fentanyl

Democratic leadership sandbagged Gov. Lombardo’s public safety legislation by refusing to give his bill a hearing. The bill aims to reverse the course of a 2019 criminal justice reform law. Lombardo seeks to make possessing any amount of fentanyl a category B felony, while Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D), who denied the hearing, sponsored another version of fentanyl legislation, which was scrapped on Friday.

Monday, a separate bill lowering quantities of fentanyl subject to trafficking charges was amended from 4 grams of possession to 28 grams. Currently, trafficking charges for fentanyl start at 100 grams of possession. As the legislation moves toward the Governor’s desk, his position has not been announced.

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School choice and election reform are other campaign promises the Governor made, and the legislature has prevented them from coming to fruition, thus far. While tensions run high with the Democrat majority, and bills trickle onto the Governor’s desk for signature, more vetoes appear likely. The state budget is the largest negotiating chip on the table and divergent visions on how to allocate surplus have emerged. If not satisfactory, the Governor is likely to veto the budget, which will set up a special legislative session to be called by Lombardo’s proclamation.

Governor Lombardo is flexing his wrist muscles, showing Nevadans that he is the Executive leader voters hoped for, and that he is not afraid to exercise his authority to, “Get s*** done,” as he famously said he would do in January.

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