A bill making libraries gun-free zones is a superfluous exercise

So, what is the point of this bill?

Now that the video has been posted from Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, we learn that Senate Bill 115 — which purportedly would add public libraries to the legislatively mandated gun-free zones — can be whisked away by a simple vote of any library district board.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau’s digest of the bill states: “This bill additionally prohibits a person from carrying or possessing certain weapons while on the property of a public library unless the person has written permission from the governing board of the public library to carry or possess the weapon.”

The bill amends current law which creates gun-free zones on the parking lots and in the buildings of universities, public and private schools and child care facilities by adding public libraries.

According to the LCB attorney present at the meeting, “written permission” need not be for every individual seeking to bring their weapons onto library grounds and into library buildings, but can be a sweeping policy to allow any any patron to openly or concealed carry.

As is pointed out in this week’s newspaper column, the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District already prohibits weapons in library buildings, and presumably any library district could do so as well, making SB115 a superfluous exercise in hoplophobia by nanny state lawmakers. One person joked that Eureka could allow patrons to bring their shotguns.

We still think someone should a amend the bill to add language from Assemblyman John Hambrick’s unsuccessful 2015 legislation that  would have allowed guns in vehicles at the aforementioned locales so long as the vehicle was locked or occupied.


Newspaper column: Lawmakers should narrow, not expand gun-free zones

Lawmakers in Carson City continue to exhibit rabid hoplophobia — fear of guns. A bill has been introduced to further extend gun-free zones to public libraries and their parking lots. Senate Bill 115, introduced by state Sen. Mo Denis of Las Vegas, would add public libraries to the current law, which already prohibits guns and other weapons in the buildings and parking lots of universities, public and private schools and childcare facilities. Now, we have no problem with the private owners of land and buildings demanding that visitors come unarmed, and the state is surely the owner or custodian of universities and public schools. Though why lawmakers should be allowed to dictate to private schools and private childcare facilities is beyond us.

Additionally, this bill is a pointless endeavor that does nothing but add needless paperwork and wastes time, because every library district in the state has the power to control its own grounds and facilities. The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District already has a policy barring arms inside buildings and has guards who check to make sure that the holster on your belt holds a cellphone and not a handgun.

This law would require someone to get written permission to bring his or her weapon onto a library parking lot or into a library building.

During a recent committee meeting on the bill, Republican state Sen. Michael Roberson of Las Vegas, said, “I’m concerned that if these libraries don’t have adequate security that what we’re doing is we’re telling the public that we’re creating gun-free zones. And those here that want this bill can disagree with me but there have been studies that show gun-free zones are a magnet for criminal activity and mass shooters.”

He said the bill undermines law abiding Nevadans and actually endangers the public.

Republican state Sen. Don Gustavson — who represents all of Esmeralda, Humboldt, Lander, Mineral, Pershing and parts of Nye and Washoe counties — echoed Roberson’s concerns about creating gun-free zones. He asked rhetorically whether one would have a quicker response by pulling out a cellphone and calling 9-1-1 or pulling out a weapon. He said many in his district carry concealed weapons wherever they go.

According to the Nevada Firearms Coalition, since about 1950, more than 95 percent of all mass shootings in America have taken place where law-abiding citizens are banned from carrying guns.

Most puzzling is why it is a crime to have a gun in your car in the parking lot of these facilities. In fact, in the 2015 legislative session Assemblyman John Hambrick introduced a bill that would have allowed guns in vehicles at the aforementioned locales. A hearing on the bill was packed with proponents and opponents. A digest of the bill stated it would add an exception to the law so that a person would not be prohibited from possessing a weapon on those specific grounds if it were inside a locked or occupied motor vehicle. Seemed like a common sense approach, but it never got out of committee.

So people who are accustomed to keeping a pistol in the glove compartment or a rifle in a gun rack or the trunk are breaking the law if they drop their children off on school or daycare parking lots or visit a college campus. Now this bill would add public libraries, even if one is dropping a book at an outside collection box. Having a gun in the parking lot is not as good as having one on your person if the need arises. Just ask the vice principal of the Pearl, Miss., school who had to run a quarter mile to his vehicle to retrieve a gun to stop a shooter.

In October of 1997 a young man showed up on a school campus carrying a .30-30 rifle. He fatally shot two students. At the sound of gunshots, the vice principal ran a quarter of a mile to his truck, because the school was declared by law to be a gun-free zone, to recover and load his pistol before returning to campus, where he captured and disarmed the gunman and held him for four minutes until police could arrive. This could be an opportunity for an enterprising lawmaker to show some common sense for a change. Amend SB115 by adding the parking lot exception offered by Hambrick two years ago. That would not go far enough but would be a move in the right direction. Also, let library districts set their own policies.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Bill would add public libraries to gun-free zones

Lawmakers in Carson City continue to exhibit rabid hoplophobia.

A bill has been introduced to further extend gun-free zones to public libraries and their parking lots. Senate Bill 115, introduced by state Sen. Mo Denis, would add public libraries to the current law, which prohibits guns and other weapons in the buildings and parking lots of universities, public and private schools and childcare facilities.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has a hearing scheduled on the bill for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Nevada Firearms Coalition is urging people to contact the committee members to oppose the bill and register their opposition at a legislative web page.

Now, we have no problem with the owners of land and buildings demanding that visitors come unarmed and the state is surely the owner or custodian of universities and public schools, but why should the state dictate to private schools and private childcare facilities? But most of all, why make it a crime to have a gun in your car in the parking lot?

In fact, in 2015 session Assemblyman John Hambrick introduced a bill that would have allowed guns in occupied or locked vehicles at the aforementioned locales. A hearing on the bill was packed with proponents and opponents.

Its digest stated:

Existing law generally makes it a gross misdemeanor to carry or possess certain weapons while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or a child care facility, or while in a vehicle of a private or public school or a child care facility except in certain circumstances. (NRS 202.265) This bill adds an exception so that a person is not prohibited from possessing such weapons on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or a child care facility if the weapon remains out of public view and if the weapon is: (1) inside a motor vehicle that is occupied or, if the motor vehicle is unoccupied, the motor vehicle is locked; or (2) stored in a locked container that is affixed securely to the motor vehicle. 

Seems like a common sense approach, but it never got out of committee.

Having a gun in the parking lot is not as good as having one on your person if the need arises, but tell that to the vice principal of the Pearl, Miss., school who had to run a quarter mile to car to retrieve a gun to stop a shooter.

Vin Suprynowicz recounted in a newspaper column in 2012:

Law-abiding Americans with guns have an impressive record of cutting short the mayhem of would-be mass killers. In a shooting in Pearl, Miss., in October 1997, young Luke Woodham had slit his mother’s throat before carrying a .30-30 deer rifle to school.

Woodham fatally shot two students as Vice Principal Joel Myrick, responding quickly to the sound of shots, dashed to his truck — parked more than a quarter-mile away as required by the ‘gun-free school zone’ law — to recover and load his own Colt .45. He then raced back, captured and disarmed Woodham, holding a gun to his head for more than four minutes while waiting for police to arrive. This almost certainly saved lives, as Woodham had declared his intent to also shoot up another nearby school.

Pearl, Miss., school shooter.

Pearl, Miss., school shooter.


Hambrick fires back at Fiore’s allegations and contentions

The circular firing squad of the Republican Assembly Caucus keeps firing — ready, fire, aim.

This afternoon Assembly Speaker-designate John Hambrick responded on Facebook to Assembly member Michele Fiore’s Friday public email providing tit for tat, point by point.

John Hambrick’s Facebook mug

The key question is whether or not Hambrick has the authority to oust Fiore from her “elected” post as Assembly majority leader. Fiore cited the National Council of State Legislatures as her authority that her position is elected. Hambrick counters with a 1996 textbook, “The Sagebrush State: Nevada’s History, Government, and Politics” by Michael Wayne Bowers.

Sure enough on page 72 the book says: “In the assembly, the presiding officer is the speaker of the assembly. The speaker, who is selected by the majority party caucus, not only presides over the assembly but also serves as his party’s leader. In that capacity, he appoints his party’s members to the various committees and selects the majority leader, the speaker pro-tempore, and the committee chairs.” (emphasis added by Hambrick)

Is either authority, as Al Gore would say, controlling legal authority?

Hambrick turns Fiore’s authority back on her by quoting from it:

“Caucus rules. Most legislative party caucuses have not developed formal rules for their proceedings. More often, caucus business is governed by informal rules loosely based on senate or house parliamentary procedure, by unwritten caucus traditions or simply by the style of the caucus leader who presides over the meeting.” (Hambrick underlined much of that)

Hambrick’s strongest argument is tradition. He claims, without citing a source that from 1973 until 2013 — with the exception of 1985 for which he had no information — the “Assembly Majority Floor Leader was appointed by the Speaker.

He also said Fiore has no authority to call a caucus meeting on Monday.

What will happen on Monday?


Nevada Republican Assembly Caucus about to get raucous

Dust off your Robert’s Rules of Order and lawyer up, it is going to be a bumpy ride.

The already chaotic Republican Assembly Caucus is about to reach critical mass.

Michele Fiore (AP photo)

On Monday the governor and other statewide constitutional offices will be sworn in and most legislators are expected to show up for the shindig. There was a meeting of the Republican Assembly Caucus tentatively scheduled for that day, but on Thursday John Hambrick, Assembly speaker-designate, sent a text message to the Las Vegas newspaper saying there would be no meeting.

On Friday, Assembly member Michele Fiore — the “elected” Assembly majority leader who was unilaterally ousted by Hambrick, reinstated and then ousted again — sent an email to Hambrick saying she, in her role as “elected” majority leader, was scheduling a caucus meeting for 3:30 p.m. Monday so the caucus could vote and select its leadership.

Fiore’s missive questions Hambrick’s authority to remove her from an elected leadership post and points out that, according to the National Council of State Legislatures, the caucus “elects” its leaders.

She writes:

“There is no rule in the Assembly Standing Rules that allows you to arbitrarily remove me from an elected Caucus position. Neither have the members of the Caucus been presented with any evidence from any source that allows you to overrule my election by a majority of the Assembly Republican Caucus as the Majority Leader of the Caucus. You need to know that a sizeable portion of the members of the Caucus still consider me the Majority Leader, as do I. I will be occupying my Majority Leader office January 5th.”

Hambrick told The Associated Press on Friday that he didn’t want to comment publicly on the matter.

The Republican Assembly Caucus leadership and committee assignments have been shaken up more than a dry martini in recent weeks.

It will be interesting Monday to see if Fiore can pull in a quorum of the caucus to take a vote.

Fiore herself is none too sure of the outcome:

“Until you prove otherwise, I question your power to remove me and wish to state that may only be done by a Caucus vote.

“I do know how to count votes and realize I might not survive a new vote for Majority Leader, but that vote must be taken, and it must be taken as soon as possible. The January 5, 2015 meeting that you unilaterally canceled would have been the perfect time for that vote, and I urge you to reconsider. As the Majority Leader I’m calling that meeting. Our caucus will meet January 5th at 3:30pm in our caucus room. It is in the best interests of the Caucus to bring this unfortunate incident to a conclusion.
“I will abide by the decision of the Caucus and look forward to working to bring about the real changes Nevada needs and the people who elected us deserve.”
According to the aforementioned National Council of State Legislatures, the Assembly caucuses “usually” ban the press and the public from their meetings, and, though Fiore ranted in her email about transparency and how “This is not an issue that should be resolved behind closed doors via ‘internal communication only,'” I don’t expect Monday’s meeting, if there is one, will be open to the press or public.

John Hambrick (AP photo)

This is especially so because Fiore further stirred the pot by calling on Hambrick to slap down Republican Assembly member Pat Hickey for his recent column in several state newspapers in which he called the caucus a “Clown Caucus.”
“For the record, is this sort of offensive personal attack on our caucus by a fellow caucus member acceptable under your leadership?” Fiore asks, rhetorically I’m sure, as she twists the knife in the wound. “If (it) is not acceptable, why have you decided to reward this type of behavior by assigning Mr. Hickey premier office space(?)”
In his column, Hickey ironically complained, “Intraparty squabbling, like what we’re seeing from Assembly Republicans, doesn’t score points with constituents, nor does it leave a lasting legislative legacy.”
Before this is all over, there could be blood.
The leadership of the Nevada Republican Party, notoriously short on cash, could sell tickets to this grudge match.

Newspaper column: Holding the line on taxation will take only 15 Assembly members

At this point, perhaps the best we can hope for is gridlock.

The 2015 session of the Nevada Legislature is only a month away — 120 days during which our lives, liberties and property, especially our property, will be in jeopardy, as Mark Twain once opined.

In the November election, nearly 80 percent of the state’s penurious voters defeated a proposal to increase business taxes to fund education and for the first time in 85 years elected Republican majorities to both the Assembly and state Senate. This will complement the Republican governor, as well as all other statewide constitutional offices. The Assembly has 25 Republicans and 17 Democrats. The Senate has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

It shouldn’t take a reading of the tea leaves to figure out what the voters want, but nonetheless broad hints are being bandied about that Nevadans simply aren’t taxed enough already and surely we can afford to fork over another billion dollars or so.

Nevada Legislative building (R-J photo)

Even Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has flatly refused to rule out the possibility of floating a tax hike.

State agencies have submitted budgets that total $7.7 billion in spending in the next biennium, while the Economic Forum has projected the current taxes will raise only $6.3 billion.

“Today’s Economic Forum report reminds us yet again that our revenue structure is not built to meet the demands of our changing economy nor our continued increase in statewide population,” Sandoval said in a statement when the projection was made.

Since the election that Republican majority has turned on itself in what can best be described as a circular firing squad.

First, the Republican caucus’ newly elected speaker, Ira Hansen of Sparks, was hoisted on his own petard — a series of two-decade old newspaper columns that did not mince words while mincing Democrats. But his criticism of how the Democrats treated blacks was misconstrued as being offensive to blacks, so Hansen stepped down as speaker.

Up stepped John Hambrick of Las Vegas as speaker. When old reports about Republican majority leader and Taxation Committee chair Michele Fiore’s troubles with the IRS resurfaced, Hambrick removed her from both jobs, only to reinstate her the next day, only to remove her again a few days later after Fiore explained her situation on the radio.

Fiore, a fiscal conservative who has pledged to not raise taxes, blamed her tax woes on a former employee and said she is making payments to the IRS. But she also claimed she was targeted by a Republican fund-raiser and two paid political consultants, one of whom has worked for Hambrick.

At this point, I’m not sure the Republican caucus can put together a foursome for a game of Bridge, much less a coherent, fiscally conservative collation that can cut spending and hold the line on taxation.

And there are still rumors that a few renegade Republicans could join with the 17 Democrats when the Legislature opens and elect someone other than Hambrick as speaker of the Assembly.

The saving grace may lie in former Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons’ constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds vote of both the Assembly and Senate to increase taxes.

That means 15 members of the Assembly can block any tax hike proposal.

The Assembly Republicans appear to be almost evenly split between fiscal conservatives and moderates.

Gridlock may be our best hope.

This column is available online at The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News and Elko Daily Free Press.

Is Nevada GOP snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

mer·cu·ri·al mərˈkyo͝orēəl/ adjective 
(of a person) subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind.
Republican Assembly Speaker-apparent-perhaps-maybe John Hambrick has changed his mind again. First, he ousted arch-conservative Michele Fiore as majority leader and chair of the Taxation Committee, after old allegations about liens placed on her companies by the IRS. Then, without explanation, he reinstated her. Now, after she has tried to explain her situation and say she has negotiated a deal with the IRS, he has ousted her again.
“I found that Michele’s explanations of her IRS issues were unacceptable,” Hambrick was quoted as saying by the Las Vegas newspaper. “They left unanswered questions, were full of deflections and slanderous allegations that have left our caucus further divided. At this time I feel it is best to (relieve) Assemblywoman Fiore of her leadership roles in the Assembly.”

Michele Fiore (R-J photo)

The current story online says Fiore was not available for comment.
 The story did not say who she slandered, but on Alan Stock’s KDWN radio program earlier this week she said she was being targeted by Monte Miller, a key GOP fundraiser, and two paid political consultants.
Doubtlessly this will fuel further talks of a nuclear option, in which RINO Republicans join with the 17-member Democratic minority in the Assembly to name someone other than Hambrick as speaker.
To flip a phrase from Will Rogers, I think these players can honestly all say they don’t belong to any organized political party, they are Republicans.

‘Identity’ politics keeps raising its ugly head

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” — George Orwell

We just can’t seem to escape “identity” politics. It should be an oxymoron. Politics should be about ideas, not looking out for your kind, your group — whether gender, complexion of skin, social standing, youth, etc.

But no, it is the first rejoinder cast.

When the new Assembly Speaker-apparent John Hambrick summarily ousted Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman from their posts as chair and vice chair of the Taxation Committee, respectively, the women promptly fired off a scathing email accusing Hambrick of engaging in a Republican war on women.

“It appears a few men in our party are not happy that we have Republican woman in key leadership roles in the legislature, and may look to Democrats for help in unraveling more leadership roles”, said Fiore.

“To replace the two women elected to the Taxation Committee with two men, sends a very dangerous message to Nevada women voters.  Women pay taxes too in Nevada,” Seaman added.

Hambrick — who gave no reason for the ouster — almost immediately reversed himself, again without explanation.

This broad brush (pun wasn’t intended but will stand, perhaps to my chagrin) painting of one group or other as victims is just as repugnant as showing favoritism. But we can’t seem to resist.

Who can forget Harry Reid’s exclamation:

“I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK. Do I need to say more?”

Blacks tend to vote Democratic, despite the fact minority economic well-being seems to suffer when the Democrat wins, even if that Democratic is half black.

We all are minorities of one. We are not lemmings. Are shouldn’t be.

Reason, logic and facts seem to go out the window when any demographic is singled out.

Apparently we can now add “identity” justice to “identity” politics.

Congressional staffers walked out onto the steps and raised their hands in that hands-up-don’t-shoot gesture, though a grand jury found that to be an utter fabrication.

Politics and justice should be based on facts and not us against them.

Ramirez cartoon

Speaking a couple of months ago at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual black tie dinner — which would exclude me right there — former President Bill Clinton said:

“I believe that in ways large and small, peaceful and sometimes violent, that the biggest threat to the future of our children and grandchildren is the poison of identity politics that preaches that our differences are far more important than our common humanity.”

He reminded in audience that “we’re 99 and a half percent the same.”

What is in our heads is far more important than the pigment of our skin or our biological plumbing.