MINUTES OF THE
ASSEMBLY Committee on Judiciary
February 26, 1999
The Committee on Judiciary was called to order at 8:00 a.m., on Friday, February 26, 1999. Chairman Bernie Anderson presided in Room 3138 of the Legislative Building, Carson City, Nevada. Exhibit A is the Agenda. Exhibit B is the Guest List. All Exhibits are available and on file at the Research Library of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
Mr. Bernie Anderson, Chairman
Mr. Mark Manendo, Vice Chairman
Ms. Sharron Angle
Mr. Greg Brower
Ms. Barbara Buckley
Mr. John Carpenter
Mr. Jerry Claborn
Mr. Tom Collins
Mr. Don Gustavson
Mrs. Ellen Koivisto
Ms. Sheila Leslie
Ms. Kathy McClain
Mr. Dennis Nolan
Ms. Genie Ohrenschall
COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT:
GUEST LEGISLATORS PRESENT:
Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, District 29, Washoe County
Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, District 39, Douglas County
Assemblywoman Gene Segerblom, District 22, Clark County
Senator Dina Titus, District 7, Clark County
Assemblyman Richard Perkins, District 23, Las Vegas
STAFF MEMBERS PRESENT:
Donald O. Williams, Committee Policy Analyst
Risa B. Lang, Committee Counsel
Chris Casey, Committee Secretary
Susan Edmondson, Deputy District Attorney, Juvenile Division, Washoe
County District Attorney’s Office.
Ben Graham, representing Nevada District Attorney’s Association and Clark County District Attorney’s Office.
Loretta Evenson, representing Nevada Parent Teachers Association
Janine Hansen, President, Nevada Families Eagle Forum
Merritt Yochum, Chairman, Independent American Party of Carson City, Nevada
John W. Riggs Senior, representing Gun Owners of Nevada
Michael Gach, licensed investigator, Stivers Investigations, a division of S and W Protective Service
Lucille Lusk, representing Nevada Concerned Citizens
Sgt. Keith Carter, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, representing the Nevada Sheriff’s and Chief’s Association
Assembly Bill 165: Revises various provisions concerning juveniles. (BDR 5-1054)
Chairman Anderson opened the hearing on A.B. 165 and introduced the presenter of the bill, Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, District 29, Washoe County.
Ms. Angle commenced her presentation with an overview of why the bill was requested. She stated some language in A.B. 165 regarding juveniles needed to be cleaned up because it was evasive. Three amendments to the bill were proposed. The first one dealt with if a child was unable to provide restitution the court would order the parent or guardian to pay restitution. The payment specifically applied to personal injury because the current law only provided for payment of restitution by juveniles who caused property damage. The second amendment dealt with children being photographed. She explained the original intent of the bill was photographs would be used by law enforcement to conduct criminal investigations by using them in a photographic lineup. She said the proposed language would recognize the practice as a permissible act and did not alter the current law as much as it clarified what the past two legislatures had intended. Ms. Angle testified the third proposal dealt with evidentiary tests on juveniles suspected of driving under the influence (DUI). She noted the current statute required a law enforcement officer who had lawfully detained a juvenile for DUI should make a reasonable effort to notify the parents, guardian, or custodian of the child. The proposed amendment would delete the reasonable notification requirement and subject the juvenile driver to the same treatment as an adult driver. She felt there would not be much accomplished by notifying the parent or guardian prior to administering the evidentiary test because no driver could refuse the test. She pointed out even if the parent or guardian was notified it would not prohibit the test from being administered, it would only delay it.
Susan Edmondson, Deputy District Attorney, Juvenile Division, Washoe County District Attorney’s Office, opened her testimony by explaining the reasoning behind the request for the amendment. Prior to the 69th session of the Nevada Legislature the Nevada Supreme Court authorized restitution to be awarded in juvenile cases for property damage. She stated she had used it in her court as an argument for limiting restitution requests for victims of physical injury. She stated the purpose of the new legislation was to allow victims physically injured to recover their costs. She pointed out not everybody had insurance to cover their costs and presently the court was reluctant to order restitution for personal injury because of the limiting language.
Ms. Edmondson addressed the proposed change regarding photographs explaining, until 1995 a court order was required to photograph children in custody for photographic lineups. In 1995 the law was changed and required photographing of juveniles in detention. She noted in the 69th session there was concern the law was too broad with no controls, so the law was amended to prohibit using photographs of children in photographic lineups because the language required the photographs could only be inspected by law enforcement. Because of changes, instead of broadening the ability to identify juvenile criminals it limited their ability and eliminated their recourse of obtaining a photograph by court order. She stressed the proposed amendment would clear up the language, so photographs could be used in photographic lineups.
Ms. Edmondson called attention to the third proposed change in A.B. 165 noting until the 1997 session there had not been any language regarding notification of parents until a child was in custody. She remarked she had studied the legislative history behind the amendment and it was designed to enable law enforcement to have additional time before notifying parents after a child was taken into custody. It was an attempt to assist law enforcement in the evidentiary test without being required to notify a parent, which was required by Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 62. However, she noted what it did was add another layer of responsibility and notification that was not required for adult drivers or for obtaining evidence for any type of case. Ms. Edmondson stated NRS 62 required parents to be notified when a child was arrested, but many times a child was not arrested prior to the time the evidentiary test was taken. She offered the example when a juvenile was stopped while under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated he or she may elect to take a breath test. Until the test demonstrated the child was over the limit, that child would not be arrested.
Ms. Edmondson reiterated the language added an additional layer of notification which was not required by NRS 62. It also raised concerns a parent may try to stop a test, but legally they had no right to stop the test. That might lead to the question as to what reasonable efforts meant and evidence might be challenged. She stressed it was critical to avoid that situation in cases where there was injury or death. She concluded her testimony by requesting the layer requiring notification of parents be removed and return the bill to the original format.
Chairman Anderson referred to section 2 of A.B. 165 regarding the proposed amendment for photographing children for photographic lineups. He stated, relative to gangs, in the past it was common for law enforcement to obtain yearbooks from different schools and look through them and composed group mug shots. Relative to photographing juveniles by law enforcement, Chairman Anderson asked if the bill would allow the photographs to be used by victims of crime and other eye witnesses to look through a series of photographs and try to identify juveniles who may have been involved in a crime. Ms. Edmondson responded affirmatively and Chairman Anderson questioned were all the photographs of the juveniles suspects in criminal activities or known gang members and how would a fair lineup be composed. He used an example of a police lineup using policemen as suspects to clarify his question.
Ms. Edmondson replied if a juvenile was photographed at Wittenberg Hall, a juvenile detention facility in Reno, and that photo was being used in a lineup, police officers would use photos of independent people who were not connected to the juvenile detention facility in order to put together a lineup. She noted high school yearbook photos would be one option and they could also use photos of other juveniles who had been arrested and had their photograph taken.
Chairman Anderson expressed concern of a juvenile having a photograph in the lineup who was an innocent person appearing before witnesses.
Ms. Edmonds explained there were protections in the current law specifying that a child who was not adjudicated of a crime, must have his photograph destroyed. She noted if the committee was concerned about using photos of children who had not been adjudicated, there could be a provision that only photos of adjudicated offenders could be used, other than the suspect, in preparing a lineup.
Chairman Anderson questioned what would happen if a juvenile was adjudicated once in earlier years and the photo was still being used in lineups, would the juvenile be put in jeopardy for no cause.
Ms. Edmondson explained every child who was adjudicated became a public person and she felt with the lineup process used infrequently and never distributed to the general public, the risk of identifying the child as a potential criminal was minimal. She also felt it would be unlikely a witness would recognize a juvenile or be able to use a photograph to stigmatize the child further if the child was not a suspect, and compared to the usefulness of the photos the risk was minimal. She also reiterated, in the past the court ordered photographs for lineups.
Assemblyman Collins questioned Ms. Edmondson’s statement regarding juvenile records were public records. He did not think they were public unless the juvenile was determined to be an adult.
Ms. Edmondson responded all juvenile cases, once they came before the court were public and anybody was entitled to attend a juvenile proceeding and the name was subject to publication.
Assemblyman Carpenter expressed concern over one juvenile identifying another juvenile and if there were photographs in the lineup of other juveniles the person might know and have a grudge against, maybe they would try to implicate that person.
Ms. Edmondson replied whenever a police officer conducted a photographic lineup he already had a strong suspicion who the suspect was and any photos used would be of people who had no contact with the case or the circumstances. She conceded there could be a very small chance something like Mr. Carpenter described could happen.
Assemblyman Nolan indicated he was involved with adding language to section 3 of A.B. 165, which referred to notification of parents, and was now concerned about the request to remove the same language. He noted the testimony before the committee indicated minors were treated differently than adults and the language throughout the entire NRS indicated that also. He stressed the reason the language was in the statute was if a minor was arrested for drinking while driving, that person could be subjected to a blood test, where an invasive procedure would be performed with a needle inserted in the arm, which could take time. The car could also be towed and he or she could be held for several hours before a determination could be made if the juvenile was driving under the influence. He stressed parents should know if their child was going to disappear for hours and undergo the process with the police.
Ms. Edmondson responded a police officer could detain anybody for 1 hour including juveniles, but after 1 hour the person must be released or arrested. She pointed out a juvenile would not be held for hours while an evidentiary test was completed. Even if blood was drawn the results would not be available immediately, and by the time the blood test was completed and the police officer did not feel there was enough evidence for booking, the person would be released. According to police reports evidentiary tests were completed quickly and the person was either booked or released in a short period of time.
Ms. Buckley commented all the amendment said was reasonable notification and all that was needed was asking the juvenile for the home phone number, calling the parents, and if no answer, the requirement would be met.
Ms Edmondson replied the question would be what was reasonable attempt at notification and what the results would be if the police officer did not make an attempt. Her concern was it would lead to suppression of evidence.
Mr. Buckley asked if it had happened and Ms. Edmondson replied it happened once where a parent complained because there was no notification, but pointed out it did not rise to the level of a legal challenge because the case was resolved.
Chairman Anderson asked for clarification on a statement regarding Ms. Edmondson’s concern if a police officer did not make a reasonable effort to contact the parents and asked if the police kept a log when a call was made. Ms. Edmondson thought it was done and the question would become whether, upon legal challenge, somebody suggested one call to a parent was not reasonable and asked why more effort was not made.
Chairman Anderson expressed his concern, since he was involved in the initial hearings in the past two sessions it was made clear a reasonable effort meant a telephone call.
Assemblyman Collins asked if parents were required to sign for a juvenile when he or she received a driver’s license and could an agreement be made that the parents allowed an alcohol test if necessary.
Ms. Edmondson replied parents were required to sign for a child and by law implied consent applied to juveniles as well as adults so anybody who had a driver’s license must submit to an alcohol test if requested.
Mr. Carpenter pondered the issue in rural areas where it could take longer to administer evidentiary tests because of the distance between towns. He also commented a juvenile under 18 years of age was supposed to be under the control of the parents and felt not notifying them took their responsibility away.
Chairman Anderson replied the issue of notifying the parent did not predicate having to take evidentiary tests. The parent should be notified a test was to be given to the child.
Mr. Carpenter stated the witness had testified it would not take a long time to administer the tests so it was not necessary to notify the parents. He reiterated his point if the juvenile had to be taken some distance for the test there could be a substantial period of time before notification, so he felt every effort should be made to notify the parent as soon as possible.
Mr. Brower asked if the criticism of the notification requirement was based upon not being practical or there was no purpose for it.
Ms. Edmondson felt there was no purpose for it and it could result in a legal challenge of suppressing evidence.
Mr. Brower stated, as he understood it, the test could be administered regardless if the parent was notified and objected to it. He questioned her point which was it did not make sense to require notification if there was no point to it. The parent would have to be notified if an arrest was made, so the notification would eventually happen.
Chairman Anderson explained a memo (Exhibit C) was distributed from the Las Vegas District Attorney’s office in support of A.B. 165.
Ben Graham, speaking on behalf of the Clark County District Attorney’s office referred to the memo and informed the committee the office was in support of the legislation. He reminded the committee, in 1997 zero tolerance legislation was enacted regarding juveniles and alcohol, so he felt it was not a burden on juveniles in the area of driving. He pointed out an effort had been made to open up the process involving juvenile offenders to allow law enforcement all of the tools possible to enforce laws against young people who committed crimes. He noted there were safeguards for children who needed protection and allowed law enforcement the tools to go after the more significant offender.
Mr. Nolan questioned if a juvenile was stopped in rural Nevada and the police had an hour to make a decision to make an arrest, and the nearest place where an evidentiary test could be taken was located more than 1 hour away, what would happen in that case.
Mr. Graham responded he would need an exact fact pattern, but if a person was being taken in for analysis there was adequate evidence the person was driving under the influence without needing chemical evidence. He noted the chemical analysis was used as additional evidence and asserted each situation would have to be taken on a case by case basis and the law took that into account, especially in the rural areas of Nevada.
Chairman Anderson referred to the three areas of the bill being considered and contended, section 1 was not being questioned by the committee. Section 2 was being questioned because of the expansion of the public being able to look at juvenile photographs where in the past it was only law enforcement agencies, and in section 3 it was making sure parent’s rights were being observed. He asked Mr. Graham if he agreed with the statement.
Mr. Graham thought the section regarding photographs was limited to victims, but wanted it clarified the bill was not changing substantively what was done over the years, but to clear up some ambiguities.
Chairman Anderson invited testimony in opposition to A.B. 165.
Loretta Evenson, representing the Nevada Parent Teachers Association (NPTA), testified the association had concerns about the change in section 3 of bill regarding parents did not have to be notified if their child was arrested. As parents they were financially and legally responsible for the children, but also served as the primary advocate for their children. If the language was changed so police officers would no longer have to make a reasonable attempt to notify parents before administering a test, it eliminated the ability for the parents to advise the child what would be in the best interest for the child and the family. Ms. Evenson thought a person was allowed to refuse an evidentiary test if under the suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol and could lose his or her driver’s license for a period of time. She pointed out as adults, parents were aware of those rights and the consequences, but would a child be aware of their rights and consequences. Would a child know to even ask what their options were and would it be appropriate to put a child in the position of making a decision to submit to a test or not. She stressed the parents would most likely bear the financial and legal responsibility, as well as the liabilities along with the child. She conceded her association understood the need to ensure the safety of all citizens, but would the change result in the elimination of the primary child’s advocate, the parent, from being advised of the situation and the ability to guide the child through the process.
Ms. Evenson, on behalf of the NPTA encouraged the committee to leave the language in section 3 as it was currently written.
For clarification for Ms. Edmondson, Assemblywoman Koivisto referred to the statement in Exhibit C, "it should be noted that no driver has a right to refuse such a test and that reasonable force can be used to conduct the test." Her statement was in response to Ms. Evenson’s testimony that a person could refuse to take an evidentiary test.
Addressing Ms. Edmondson, Mr. Brower hypothesized a juvenile could be stopped for suspicion of a DUI, tested, pass the test, and be released, thereby creating a situation where the parent would never find out the child had ever been pulled over. He asked if it was a reasonable hypothesis.
Ms. Edmondson responded she did not think it was reasonable unless the child had no blood alcohol in his or her system at all. The officer would submit a test and if the blood alcohol was 0.18 or above the driver’s license would be suspended immediately and the parents would be notified.
Janine Hansen, President, Nevada Families Eagle Forum, opened her testimony by pointing out section 1 of A.B. 165 and stating she was in favor of restitution. She called attention to section 3 of the bill regarding notification and suggested the original language was reasonable because it stated an officer shall make a reasonable attempt to notify the parents. She expressed the feelings of a parent when a child was not home by their curfew and how worried a parent became. She felt it was very important to keep the parents in the loop and attempt to contact them, especially since the law stated a person had to submit to a test, the parent should be involved.
Merritt Yochum, Chairman, Independent American Party of Carson City, Nevada, agreed with Ms. Hansen’s testimony regarding the notification issue and opposed the bill on that point.
Chairman Anderson closed the hearing on A.B. 165 and asked for discussion from the committee.
A discussion among committee members ensued regarding amending A.B. 165. It was requested to remove "without limitation" from section 2, line 28 and to remove the language in section 3 regarding an officer was not required to notify parents.
Chairman Anderson stressed it was the intention of the Committee on Judiciary that a reasonable attempt would be a telephone call.
It was decided among the committee to put A.B. 165 on a work session document. Chairman Anderson indicated section 1 would be retained at the current language, section 2 would have amended language and section 3 would be eliminated.
Chairman Anderson opened the hearing on A.B. 166 regarding concealed firearms.
Assembly Bill 166: Expands locations into which permittee may carry concealed firearm. (BDR 15-351)
Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, District 39, introduced A.B. 166 explaining the bill proposed changes in the concealed carry weapon permit (CCWP) law. He pointed out the bill pertained to people who obtained a CCWP properly, which required an FBI background check and completing an approved course to make sure they knew and understood the law. He referred to a recent study by economist John Lott (Exhibit D) examining the impact of concealed carry permits on the reduction of murder and rapes.
Mr. Hettrick distributed a summary of the concealed weapon permits currently issued in the State of Nevada (Exhibit E). The summary listed the counties in Nevada and showed 13,027 permits had been issued since February 10, 1999 and noted incidents which occurred involving permit holders. He explained the purpose for obtaining a CCWP was personal safety and it was why he believed the current law should be changed. He referred to A.B. 166 noting lines 4 through 13 listed public buildings where a person could not carry even with a permit. The intent of the existing language was to make those buildings safer and he argued the opposite was true. He noted statistics proved permittees were not the source of firearm related violence in public buildings. He opined the language increased the risk of crime in a public building because most criminals would not go to a private business or home where there might be a person proficient in the use of firearms. A criminal would most likely go to a public building where, by existing state law, you would be guaranteed a person was not carrying a weapon and that did not make sense to him.
In referring to lines 10 and 11 of A.B. 166, regarding any building owned by state or local government, Mr. Hettrick stressed if it was enforced it would have a negative effect on the number of trade or commercial shows booked into the Las Vegas and Reno/Sparks Convention Centers or the Thomas and Mack and Lawlor Events Centers. Any exhibitor who showed antiques, jewelry, computers, art or even guns, had CCW permits to protect themselves while carrying materials in and out of the building. He noted, as the law existed, those people were violating the law because nobody enforced that section of the law and was why he wanted it changed.
Mr. Hettrick testified part of his requested changes was removing the list of buildings found in section 1 of A.B. 166. He wanted the language changed to read "a permittee shall not carry a concealed firearm into any public building that has a metal detector at each public entrance or has a sign posted at each public entrance." Section 3 was cleaning up language and section 5, subsection (a) referred to receiving permission to carry a concealed weapon pursuant to (c) of subsection 3 of Nevada Revised Statute 202.265 (NRS), which showed a person could carry a concealed weapon under certain circumstances and in certain buildings. He noted subsection (b) of section 5 of A.B. 166 allowed a permittee to receive permission in the same manner for any other public building. He indicated section 7, subsections (a) and (b) of A.B. 166 defined what public buildings were and lines 29 through 31 clarified if a public entity occupied only a portion of a building, then only that portion was considered a public building. He used as an example where a city or state agency rented an office in a building where there were private offices in the same building. CCW permittees for those private offices would not be allowed to carry because a portion of the building was rented to government agencies, and that was why he wanted the existing law amended.
Mr. Hettrick thought, since statistics proved most CCW permittees were not a safety issue, most building administrators would add metal detectors or post signs so it would extend the deterrent and safety factor of CCWP law to public buildings, and he believed it should. He addressed those public entities who felt the provision would require them to post signs on all their buildings, and reminded them national statistics proved their buildings would be safer if they allowed legal permittees to carry. He stressed the only people who would not obey the law would be people who carried illegally. Mr. Hettrick indicated if metal detectors or signs were used, by adding the option in subsection (b), section 5, regarding obtaining written permission, a deterrent was added because a potential criminal going into a public building would not know if a person had permission to carry inside the building. Adding the right of permission extended metal detectors and posted signs as right of protection.
Chairman Anderson temporarily left the committee meeting and turned the gavel over to Vice Chairman Manendo.
John W. Riggs Senior, speaking on behalf of Gun Owners of Nevada directed his testimony to the issue of a person from out of town who was allowed to carry a concealed weapon, and wanted to know what buildings allowed a person to carry a weapon on the premises. Under the current law, it would require a person to look up the law as to where he would be allowed to carry a weapon. If it was amended, a person would be able to go to a building where a sign was posted not allowing a permittee to carry inside the building and it would answer the person’s question immediately. He added it would save time for the public and those who carried. Mr. Riggs called attention to the issue of metal detectors pointing out in most public buildings using metal detectors, lockers were provided for people carrying weapons so they could still go into the building. He commented A.B. 166 was one of the best common sense approaches to the problem and he supported the bill.
Mr. Riggs thought an offshoot of the bill would be private business owners utilizing the same system of posting signs at every entrance to their store if they did not want somebody carrying a weapon in their store.
Mr. Riggs concluded his testimony by pointing out if the signage was proper regarding CCW permittees carrying concealed weapons on a premises, it solved the problem in the bill of listing which buildings allowed concealed weapons.
Ms. Hansen, Nevada Families Eagle Forum opened her testimony by informing the committee her organization had consistently supported concealed carry laws and they supported A.B. 166. She quoted President George Washington "firearms stand next to importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty and keystone under independence. To ensure peace, security, and happiness the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference. They deserve a place of honor with all that is good." She concluded by urging the committee to support the extension of the concealed carry law.
Michael Gach, licensed investigator, Stivers Investigations, informed the committee he was in favor of A.B. 166 for a number of reasons but noted the issue of receiving permission to carry a firearm in a public building was essential to his clients to be able to provide protection for them. He stressed as a licensed private investigative firm they were required to have additional training through the private investigator’s licensing board and to also carry insurance.
Mr. Yochum, chairman of the Independent American Party supported the bill.
Ms. Lusk, representing Nevada Concerned Citizens, supported A.B. 166 and appreciated the bipartisan nature with which it was being undertaken.
Vice Chairman Manendo closed the hearing on A.B. 166.
Mr. Collins questioned if there was already proper signage available for the buildings.
Mr. Hettrick did not think there was any specification for signs because it was the first time signs were allowed. He suggested a sign showing the letters CCWP inside a circle with a red line through it because anybody with a carry permit knew what the letters CCWP meant. He informed the committee if they felt there was a need to specify what the sign would say, he did not have a problem with that.
Mr. Collins replied he supported the bill, he just wanted to make sure the signage issue was clear.
Chairman Anderson returned to the committee, but not as the Chair, and stated his concern was if someone had permission to carry, and was entering and leaving the store several times, how would an employee of the store know a permittee had permission, without carrying a series of written permission forms.
Mr. Hettrick noted the law only applied to public buildings as defined by buildings being owned by the city, county, state, or governmental agency and did not apply to stores like Macys. He indicated if he currently had a CCWP no law prohibited him from walking in and out of the store. He stressed the law currently stated if a person had a permit to carry they could carry unless prohibited by law, and it was not prohibited except in public buildings. As an example if someone entered the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and there was not a sign posted, the permittee could carry a weapon inside the building.
Vice Chairman Manendo commented in public buildings there was armed security and if a shooting occurred and a CCWP pulled out a gun, how would security or the police know if that person was not the assailant.
Mr. Hettrick responded when it first started happening they probably would not know, but ultimately the permittee would have to provide the permit to show he was licensed to carry. He noted he had taken a CCWP course and stressed the first thing they trained a person to do was not to get involved if there was a trained security guard present.
Vice Chairman Manendo entertained a motion on A.B. 166.
ASSEMBLYMAN CARPENTER MOVED TO DO PASS A.B. 166.
ASSEMBLYMAN GUSTAVSON SECONDED THE MOTION.
THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Vice Chairman Manendo informed the committee Mr. Hettrick would take the bill to the floor and the committee would provide him with the floor statement.
Vice Chairman Manendo opened the hearing on A.B. 192.
Assembly Bill 192: Makes various changes concerning firearms. (BDR 15-74)
An explanation prepared by the Legal Division of A.B. 192 (Exhibit F) was distributed to the committee at the request of Chairman Anderson.
Assemblywoman Gene Segerblom, District 22, introduced A.B. 192 by explaining it addressed the possession of a firearm by a minor. In support, she offered statistics showing everyday 16 children in the United States were killed by guns and at least 1 was shot unintentionally. She noted firearms were the fourth leading cause of accidental death among children ages 5 to 14 years old and the third leading cause of accidental death for those 15 to 24 years of age. She informed the committee one half of the homes in America contained a least 1 gun and over 1 million latch key children had access to guns when they came home from school. She indicated current law in Nevada did not allow a minor to handle firearms without an adult present, with some exceptions for hunting, and a gun must be kept in a secure location.
Ms. Segerblom observed the current laws appeared to be adequate, but compared to other states Nevada’s law was lenient. She noted 14 other states, including California, Florida, and Texas passed firearm laws referred to as child access prevention laws, which required adults to be more responsible for their weapons.
Ms. Segerblom concluded her presentation by observing A.B. 192 would make it a crime to negligently store a firearm in a manner that allowed a child to gain access to it. She stressed the bill forced adults to be more assertive in protecting children from access to firearms. As an example of unprotected firearms available to children she mentioned an incident that occurred at Meyers Elementary School at Lake Tahoe where two fourth grade students brought a high caliber revolver to the school. The weapon was taken from the home of one of the children. Ms. Segerblom mentioned students had been found with guns on campus for a variety of reasons including wanting to show them to friends or carrying a gun for protection while walking home. She also described other incidents involving children with firearms that had occurred around the state and the country. She stressed she did not put it in her bill that a person could not have a gun in their home, but it must be stored in such a manner to protect the children and the schools.
Debbie Cahill, representing the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA), spoke in favor of A.B. 192 because they did not see it as a gun control bill. She prefaced her testimony by pointing out the NSEA had generally stayed away from the debate on gun control, but they saw A.B. 192 as a school safety bill. She noted 1998 was one of the most devastating years for education employees and students across the United States with the number of shootings on school campuses. In many cases the students who had access to those guns were allowed access by their parents or guardians.
Ms. Cahill concluded her testimony by observing the bill would hopefully improve adult awareness and if not that, it would hold them responsible and was why her association supported the bill.
Referring to section 1, subsection 2 of A.B. 192, Chairman Anderson asked if a child gained access to a firearm was it proof enough of negligent storage. Ms. Segerblom responded affirmatively and noted if the weapon was stored in a glass case and not a locked safe, it was negligence.
Chairman Anderson continued by referring to page 2, line 10 of subsection 3 where it stated a child discharged a firearm and caused serious bodily injury or death to himself. He questioned now there was the scenario where a parent was grieving for the loss of the child but would be subject to a category C felony because the child gained access to a firearm. Even though the parent thought sufficient care was taken to secure the firearm, the parent could be charged.
Ms. Segerblom answered affirmatively, but suggested the legal staff verify if she was correct in her opinion.
Mr. Gustavson related a hypothetical situation where a 17 or 18 year old was home alone, competent in the use of a firearm, and someone broke into the home. That person would not have access to any firearm because of the law being discussed. He questioned the bill would deny the person access to a gun for self-defense in his or her own home.
Ms. Segerblom again referred the question to the legal staff.
Mr. Brower suggested another way of posing the same question. Because of the bill, a gun owner may secure the firearm to such an extent that the child who was able to use the firearm adequately, could not get to the firearm to defend the household from an intruder.
Ms. Segerblom noted it was the idea of taking the gun out of the house, even though the child was proficient in the use of weapons, if the gun was taken to school the parent would be responsible.
Ms. Buckley suggested what Ms. Segerblom tried to say was it was not her intent to deny anyone the ability to act in self-defense and maybe the language in the bill needed clarification.
Ms. Segerblom agreed it was the act of removing the gun from the home and taking it to school.
Ms. Lang called attention to section 1, subsection 1 of NRS 202.300 which talked about possession of firearms by minors and being accompanied by adults. The bill added an additional element that said the parent would also be liable if they negligently stored the firearm, causing the child to come into possession. She also called attention to section 1, subsection 4 to help clarify for Ms. Segerblom where it specified certain situations that would not apply to the bill. One situation was, if the firearm was stored in a securely locked container at a location which the person had reason to believe was secure. She felt that might relieve some of the concerns on how the weapon should be stored. She added there might need to be additional clarification in the language for the committee to reach a comfort level with the bill.
Mr. Collins stated he was concerned about Ms. Segerblom’s comment that glass gun cases were not adequate for storing firearms. She replied if the gun was loaded and a child broke the glass and removed the gun from the case and took it to school, the gun case would not be adequate.
Mr. Collins observed if only adults lived in a home and the gun was kept on the top shelf of the closet, security to that person was the doors were locked. He suggested if a child could break the glass in a gun case, the window of a house could also be broken easily. He felt the bill did not clearly describe the security issue.
Ms. Segerblom pointed out section 1, subsection 4 (b), where it referred to a child obtaining a firearm as a result of an unlawful entry in or upon the premises where a firearm was stored. She explained if a child broke into a home and stole a gun, the person in the home was not responsible.
Sgt. Keith Carter, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, representing the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association testified they supported A.B. 192.
Mr. Nolan indicated the discussion seemed to revolve around the issue of whether or not gun owners were properly securing their weapons. He wondered if she would be opposed to amending the language to read a gun owner would make a reasonable attempt to secure the weapon in such a manner to keep a child from gaining access to the weapon.
Ms. Segerblom replied if the child could gain access to the weapon, and take it to school, she was opposed to the language.
Vice Chairman Manendo called attention to section 1, subsection 4 (a), regarding if a firearm was stored in a securely locked container a parent could not be found negligent, and Mr. Nolan replied that addressed his concern.
Vice Chairman Manendo asked for testimony from witnesses opposed to A.B. 192.
John Riggs, representing Gun Owners of Nevada, testified the way the bill was written he was neither for nor against A.B. 192 because he saw many ramifications and misconstrued information and felt it needed work. As an example, he called attention to section 1, subsection 2, which stated "a person who aids or knowingly allows a child to violate subsection 1." Mr. Riggs questioned what parent would aid or knowingly allow a child to get a gun and go out and kill somebody. He informed the committee a representative of the National Rifle Association (NRA) told him there was a bill similar to A.B. 192 in California and so far it had never been applied.
Mr. Riggs concluded his testimony by stating he thought it was a feel good legislation or the situation could be resolved in the courts, but he thought the bill needed more work.
Janine Hansen, Nevada Families Eagle Forum, distributed a faxed document of the official position of Gun Owners of America (Exhibit G) and read the letter which stated their opposition to the bill because it questioned the safe storage issue and how it would affect access to firearms for self-defense. She also noted on page 2 of the document was an article about an Elko, Nevada youth that killed a man who was beating his mother. There were two other articles attached to Exhibit G that gave examples of youths protecting their homes. Ms. Hansen indicated there were many teenagers who were very competent, not only to defend themselves but to handle guns in general.
Ms. Hansen concluded her testimony by stating she was concerned about the language in the bill regarding if a child gained access to the gun it was proof enough of negligence no matter how the gun was stored.
Lucille Lusk, representing Nevada Concerned Citizens, shared her experience as a young mother left home alone for weeks at a time while her husband traveled because of his work. She said she was trained in the use of firearms and kept a handgun at her bedside through all those years as family protection. She noted her children were also trained in the use and safety of firearms.
Ms. Lusk referred to section 1, subsection 4, of A.B. 192 noting the only non-negligence was if the gun was kept in a locked or secure container. She felt it totally negated the value of her training and equipment for self-protection and family protection. She called attention to the fact the summary of the bill dealt with civil liability of parents, but the penalty provisions included misdemeanor and felony charges.
Merritt Yochum, chairman of the Independent American Party, commented how a gun could be secured and still be available for self-defense and felt it put people at unnecessary risk.
Vice Chairman Manendo closed the hearing on A.B. 192.
Chairman Anderson returned to Chair the committee and opened the hearing on S.B. 11. He explained the committee had already heard the bill in the identical format in A.B. 17.
Senate Bill 11: Repeals rule that for prosecution of murder or manslaughter, death of victim must occur within 1 year and 1 day of criminal act which caused death of victim. (BDR 15-130)
Senator Dina Titus, Senate District 7, Clark County, explained she and Assemblyman Perkins would have had both their names on S.B. 11 if it had not been for the way pre-filing worked which did not allow co-sponsoring. She noted the bill came from both of them, just on separate pieces of paper.
Ms. Titus indicated since the committee had already heard A.B. 17 she would give a brief background of the bill. She stated it would repeal the year and a day rule, which stated in order for a killing to qualify as either murder or manslaughter a victim’s death must occur within 1 year and a day of the criminal action that caused the death.
Ms. Titus informed the committee the rule had its origin in English common law dating back 700 years when doctors knew very little about medicine or forensic science. It was originally adopted in Nevada in 1861 and had remained on the books long after its utility had passed. She observed the purpose of the year and a day rule was to ensure the defendant’s action was truly the cause of the death. She pointed out if too much time had elapsed how could the prosecutors prove the defendant’s guilt and how could they account for possible intervening variables. With breakthrough advances in forensics, science, and medicine, that was no longer a problem and it was a trend across the country to abolish the year and a day rule. She listed the states that had legislatively and judicially repealed the rule and listed other states where the courts had interpreted the fact their respective legislatures did not include the rule in their recent comprehensive revision of the state’s criminal code, to mean they intended it to be abolished.
Senator Titus informed the committee the year and a day issue was brought to her attention with the death of Chris Trickle in Las Vegas. She explained he was a young race car driver who was very popular in the area who was shot while driving on Blue Diamond Highway in Las Vegas. He remained in a coma for a little over 13 months as a result of the shooting. When he died the year and a day rule had just "kicked in." There was never a doubt from anybody involved that he had died as a result of the gunshot wound. She stressed if the person that shot him was caught under existing Nevada statutes, they could not be charged with murder.
Ms. Titus concluded her presentation by stating it was too late for Chris Trickle, but S.B. 11 could become part of his legacy and gift to Nevada and they would refer to the bill as the "Chris Trickle Bill."
Assemblyman Richard Perkins, Assembly District 23, testified he supported the bill because it was the right thing to do and he was happy to support her bill if it was the wish of the committee.
Chairman Anderson indicated the committee had two suggested amendments to the bill. The first would be the addition of Mr. Perkins’ name to the top of the bill and asked if Senator Titus approved of that. She responded she would be honored to do that.
Chairman Anderson said the other suggested amendment would be in section 4 of S.B. 11 where it would state "on passage and approval." Senator Titus supported the proposed amendment.
Chairman Anderson closed the hearing on S.B.11 and entertained a motion.
ASSEMBLYMAN CARPENTER MOVED FOR AN AMEND AND DO PASS OF S.B. 11.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN BUCKLEY SECONDED THE MOTION.
THE MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Chairman Anderson asked Mr. Perkins to take the bill to the floor.
Chairman Anderson adjourned the meeting at 10:20 a.m.
Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, Chairman