(Photo: Aristide Economopoulos/for NJ Monitor
Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo on Wednesday vetoed a trio of gun control legislation passed by Democrats.
Assembly Bill 355 would have raised the age of possessing semi-automatic firearms from 18 to 21, Senate Bill 171 would have prohibited people convicted of hate crimes from possessing a firearm, and Assembly Bill 354 would have prohibited bringing a gun to voting place.
All three bills passed the Legislature on party lines and arrived on the governor’s desk Monday.
“I will not support legislation that infringes on the constitutional rights of Nevadans,” said Lombardo in a statement distributed with his veto messages Wednesday. “As I stated in my letters, much of the legislation I vetoed today is in direct conflict with legal precedent and established constitutional protections. Therefore, I cannot support them.”
In Nevada, governors have five days, excluding Sundays, to approve or veto the bills transmitted to their office. If no action is taken, the bills automatically become law.
The trio of gun bills will now return to the Legislature, which could theoretically override the veto with supermajority support, but that appears unlikely given the makeup of the state senate. Democrats do not have a supermajority in the upper chamber.
Lombardo’s administration distributed his veto announcement midday Wednesday, just as Democratic legislative leaders began a press conference originally designed to urge the governor to sign the bills.
Annette Magnus, executive director of Battle Born Progress, said she was “disgusted and disappointed” both by the vetoes and by the seemingly strategic release of the veto messages.
“These were common sense measures that were very simple, very easy, very straightforward measures,” she added.
State Sen. Dallas Harris, (D-Las Vegas), who sponsored the hate crime gun bill, echoed that sentiment.
“If not these three bills, then what?” she asked.
Assembly Majority Leader Sandra Jauragui, who sponsored the other two vetoed bills, accused the governor of prioritizing the radical wing of his political base ahead of the safety of everyday Nevadans.
“After his time consoling the families of 1 October, I expected the governor to have the basic empathy to realize his responsibility to prevent future mass shootings,” she added, referring to his time as Clark County sheriff during the tragedy that left 58 concertgoers dead at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Democratic speakers referenced recent polling showing broad support for changing the state’s minimum age for gun ownership.
Lombardo’s rejection of SB171, AB354 and AB355 mark the first three vetoes of the legislative session. With three weeks remaining and a slew of controversial bills still outstanding, more vetoes may be forthcoming between now and sine die on June 5.
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