Proposed library ban will pave way for campus carry, activist says

A gun rights blogger said Tuesday a proposal banning weapons outright in Nevada libraries will pave the way for a campus carry law.

G.C. Gates, editor of NevadaCarry.org, said Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, “painted himself into a corner” when he sponsored Senate Bill 115, which would update existing law to allow libraries to ban guns, openly-carried and concealed. Current law only extends such authority to schools, colleges and daycares.

“If the bill were to hypothetically pass, while gun owners might have lost the battle, we will have won the war as Senator Denis has sown the seeds for us to win campus carry and further gun rights,” Gates wrote in a blog post Tuesday. “Let me be clear: every argument that applies for campus carry applies to libraries, given Sen. Denis’ assertion. If passed into law, SB 115 will be the foundation for how campus carry is passed in Nevada.”

Denis and bill co-sponsor Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, D-Las Vegas, served as library trustees before becoming state lawmakers and both agreed libraries function as “extensions of the education establishment.”

“I worry about open carry in areas where I bring my children,” Bilbray-Axelrod said last year while campaigning for her currently-held seat. “I’ve been going to the library with my daughter since she was three months old. It’s a place people would assume would be weapon-free.”

“I brought it because I felt they were left off the original bill two years ago,” Denis said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last month. “This gives the library the opportunity to do whatever they want. They’ve been gun free for 100 years so to say now that it will change anything, I don’t see it.”

The “original bill” Denis referred to, SB 175, delineates the power of regulating firearms solely to the state Legislature.

Gates said conflating libraries and schools as one in the same would not stand up in court.

“Libraries are not schools and far from it,” he said. “There is no controlled access as in a school and poor supervision. Children are not mandated by law to be in a library daily. The adult-to-children ratio is nothing like the (probably) ten or twenty-to-one ratio in schools. Depending on the location, the library may have more adult patrons than children. Most kids are in school for the first half of the library’s business day. A library is no more like a school than a park is.”

He continued: “The facts are plain; there is no rational reason to prohibit legally armed adults from carrying self-defense handguns on campus. In particular, the work of Dr. John Lott, Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center proves this. The merits against campus carry are demonstrably false and every argument used to defeat them can be used to defeat SB 115.”

Lott is a favorite among gun rights groups for his research linking lower crime rates to concealed carry laws. Gun control advocates pan his expertise and remain critical of his research methodology.

His research shows of the 14.5 million concealed carry permit holders across the United States, revocation rates for those permits are rare — occurring at “rates of tenths or hundredths of one percent.”

Losing a permit over a firearm-related incident is rarer still, Lott said, occurring at “rates of thousandths or tens of thousandths of one percent.”

He most recently debated with an Ohio lawmaker in December via editorials as the state considered a campus carry law.

“Gun-free zones are magnets for murderers,” he wrote. “Even the most ardent gun-control advocate would never put ‘Gun-Free Zone’ signs on their home. Let’s stop putting them elsewhere.”

The sentiment was echoed by Nevada senators, who worried about turning libraries into gun free zones and attracting criminals at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for SB 115 last month.

The committee scheduled the bill for a work session Thursday.

In the meantime, Gates outlined an amendment to fix one of the proposal’s most glaring errors, according to bill detractors: revise language to allow gun owners to store weapons in their cars while patronizing the library.

The idea is the same as a failed House Bill 102, the parking lot protection bill, which would allow owners to do the same on college campuses, Gates said. He said HB 102 died in a previous session because some referred to it as “campus carry lite,” scaring away support.

“If only library parking lots/grounds were exempted, this would be political hay for campus carry supporters to humiliate the anti-gun legislators and hang their hypocrisy around their neck,” he said. “Imagine how stupid they would look claiming libraries are the same schools as schools, but ‘different’ enough to allow guns stored in parked cars at the libraries, but not a school.”

He concluded: “The best thing for Denis and Bilbray-Axelrod and the libraries is to simply let SB 115 die. If not, pro-gunners will win, even if it is only a moral victory.”