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Former Lawmakers Advocate 'Measured' Approach In Gun Control Debate


Last week, Las Vegas Sun Publisher Brian Greenspun talked to KNPR's State of Nevada about a recent editorial he wrote asking casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to support gun control by withholding contributions to Republicans -including President Donald Trump - until they agree to do something about gun violence.

Today, former State Senator and current lobbyist Warren Hardy responded to that message. 

"The issue I had is that this characterization that seems to be everywhere, nationally, in the state, that Republicans don't care about this issue and don't want to do anything about it... I would gladly give up every weapon I have - and I have a lot. I'm a sportsman. I don't hunt but I do enjoy shooting as a hobby - I would gladly give them all up if we had a proposal that taking my guns away would save one child."

Hardy said Republicans do care about gun violence but he said they support solutions that work. He said he doesn't have a problem with background checks or red flag laws as long as they are well thought out and applied properly.

His biggest concern is that the right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution and anything that changes the Constitution needs to be handled with "kid gloves."

"In the United States of America, a constitutional right needs to be held sacrosanct and when we talk about restricting somebody's constitutional right, whichever one it is, we have to be very measured and very careful," he said.

Former State Senator Patricia Farley, who was a Republican but became an independent and caucused with the Democrats while in Carson City, agreed that there needs to be a measured approach to any kind of gun control.

"There needs to be restrictions," she said, "I think what we miss in the media and in general conversations because we hear from the extremists on the Right side and extremes on the Left is that the moderate middle, or your average American, wants background checks. They want measured restrictions that don't violate our Constitution."

Farley also supports red flag laws, which allow family members to ask to have a person's firearms taken away if they're deemed a threat to themselves or others. 

"I don't think it hurts to put everything on the table and start looking at it as a comprehensive approach," she said, "The problem is this issue has gotten so politicized that its a great sound bite on one side or the other. And the moms who every morning have a twinge dropping their kids off at school just want an answer."

Hardy said that if America has come to the point that it is willing to do anything to stop gun violence then it is time to look all options, including enhanced penalties for using a gun in a crime, profiling and wiretapping.

"All those things are things the Left don't want to talk about," he said, "If we're to the point where we're willing to do whatever it takes how can we not have a conversation about enhanced penalties for using a weapon in a crime?''

Meanwhile, California wants to try an unusual bi-state deal with Nevada to do something about guns. A group of California lawmakers reached out to Speaker Jason Frierson to talk about working closely with Nevada on gun control.

Lawmakers in California are concerned because the shooter in the Gilroy, California mass shooting bought his firearm legally in Nevada. The gun would have been illegal in California.

Hardy said that kind of cross stateline cooperation is common but usually not as blatant.

Neither he nor Farley believes it is fair to blame Nevada for the crime.

"He could have gone to a lot of different places, including probably obtain the same rifle in California illegally," she said.



Warren Hardy, lobbyist and former Nevada Republican state senator; Patricia Farley, business owner and former Nevada Independent state senator

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.