Lincoln County Commissioners are considering joining a lawsuit filed by other counties regarding the new red flag gun law that went into effect in Nevada Jan. 1.
According to published reports, “red flag” is the section of AB 291 “allowing law enforcement or concerned family members to get an order temporarily seizing firearms that belong to someone who poses a serious risk of personal injury to themselves or others.”
Sheriff Kerry Lee told the board members Feb. 3, the law enables a family member to sign an affidavit that another family member may not be of sound mind. Law enforcement is then authorized to confiscate whatever guns the person may own.
The item on the agenda was for information and discussion only and commissioners took no action.
Lee said the law “was not received well by most of the sheriffs in the state. We had an emergency meeting in January in Tonopah and discussed joining an injunction and a lawsuit that has already been filed by another entity against the red flag law.
“However,” he said, “as we met, we as sheriffs concluded that it was probably more appropriate that each county should be the one to join the lawsuit, if that is their desire, not the sheriff. We would wait to see what the county commission boards would do.”
AB292 states that “in addition to law enforcement, family members including domestic partners and those in a relationship with a person can seek an order, by means of a signed affidavit, temporarily taking the person’s weapons or an extended order if he or she has probable cause to believe that a person poses a risk of causing personal injury to himself or herself or another person.”
The order can be issued by a court with or without notice to the person(s) involved and must be served within seven days of being issued.
Lee said the law does have some good elements to it. “Admittedly, there are obvious cases where such incidents do occur and action does need to be taken quickly. But in other cases, an investigation needs to be conducted to establish the validity of the claim, not just acting on an affidavit of someone’s say so.”
Lee said he thought the issue would eventually be looked at by the Supreme Court of Nevada.
“Most of the sheriffs in the state are already doing anyway what this new law is trying to force us to do,” he said. “We sheriffs do not like this law at all. We feel there needs to be due process in this, not just an affidavit asking to have it done. While there are some good aspects to the law, yet we should not be asked simply to act on an affidavit that may not even be legitimate.”
Commissioner Jared Brackenberry said he views the law as just another attempt at gun control, “to take away our guns and do away with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
It was also discussed how the law might later be abused and loopholes could be found allowing anyone to sign an affidavit to have guns taken away from anyone else with no due process.
Meadow Valley Justice of the Peace Mike Cowley said a person can file an affidavit with the court, but he is not required to automatically “take it at face value and act on it immediately. I have the option of tabling the affidavit and bring all the affected parties together for a hearing. I don’t have to grant it immediately based upon a piece of paper.” Some published articles have stated that Lincoln County is among 10 counties that have declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” meaning that those county commissioner boards support county sheriffs in refusing to enforce what they deem “unconstitutional firearm laws” against any citizen.
Lincoln County Commissioners stated they have not made that determination yet.
Commission chair Varlin Higbee said he felt the commission board ought to show unity with other boards in the state.
The board will further study the issue and expects to put it on the March 2 agenda for possible action.