Nevada Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo on Wednesday vetoed three Democratic-led gun control bills that attempted to increase the age to possess certain firearms and restrict who can obtain them.
“I will not support legislation that infringes on the constitutional rights of Nevadans,” Lombardo said in a statement defending the first vetoes of his tenure. “Much of the legislation I vetoed today is in direct conflict with legal precedent and established constitutional protections. Therefore, I cannot support them.”
The bills had passed the legislature Monday, and they now return to the chambers where the governor’s veto could be overridden. However, Democrats only hold a supermajority in the state Assembly and would need at least one Republican to vote with all Democrats in the state Senate to override the veto in that chamber.
The debate over gun control, long a hot button issue, has only escalated as the country grapples with a record pace of mass shootings, with Democrats arguing that stricter regulations such as background checks are commonsense safety measures while many Republicans say the restrictions would violate the Second Amendment.
Several Nevada Democrats slammed Lombardo’s move, accusing the governor of prioritizing “partisan politics” over residents’ safety.
“I desperately wish the Governor would put the safety of Nevadans over partisan politics,” said Majority Floor Leader Sandra Jauregui, who sponsored two of the three bills vetoed Wednesday.
“After his time consoling the families of the 1 October massacre, I expected the governor to have the basic empathy to realize his responsibility to prevent future mass shootings and gun violence tragedies,” she added in a statement, referring to the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 60 people.
Among the bills vetoed Wednesday, one measure aims to increase the age requirement to posses semiautomatic shotguns or rifles from 18 to 21 and make it unlawful to help a person younger than 21 obtain such firearms. Members of the Armed Forces and law enforcement officers would be exempted from the age requirement.
Several recent mass shootings have been carried out by suspects under the age of 21, according to arrest records and charges filed. This week, police identified an 18-year-old as the gunman who killed three people and injured six others in New Mexico. Last month, six people under the age of 21 were charged in connection with a deadly rampage at a Sweet 16 birthday party in Alabama.
Another measure, AB 354, aims to ban so-called ghost guns, which are untraceable, self-assembled firearms, by prohibiting the sale or purchase of unfinished frames or receivers. It will also restrict the possession of firearms within 100 feet of an election site after threats against election workers surged in the wake of the 2020 election.
The third measure, SB171, would bar those who have been convicted of committing a violent hate crime, or attempting to do so, from possessing firearms.
As the debate surrounding gun control continues to escalate, states are moving in opposite directions with legislation to curb or strengthen safety measures.
This week, Maryland Democratic Gov. Wes Moore signed several gun safety measures that were immediately met with a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association. Last month, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also a Democrat, signed a ban on most sales of assault-style weapons.
On the other hand, Nebraska and Florida recently enacted permitless concealed carry joining 25 other states that have adopted such measures.
At the federal level, President Joe Biden signed the first major bipartisan gun safety legislation passed in decades last summer, strengthening background checks and increasing funding for mental health programs. However, gun control advocates have called for lawmakers to pass stronger reform bills, including a federal ban on certain firearms.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Jay Inslee is the governor of Washington.