by Steve Miller
copyright © 1996, Electric Nevada
|Nevada's new concealed weapons law has yielded a 1200% increase in the rate of approval for handgun-carry permits in Washoe County, yet there have been very few problems, says the county Sheriff's Department.|
| Permits averaged under 100 a
year during 1994, the last full calendar year before
implementation of "concealed-carry" reform
legislation passed by the 1995 Nevada Legislature,
according to Captain Lee Bergevin of the department's
But since the law took effect last October, he said, permits have, until recently, been averaging about 100 per month.
"Since the law's been in effect, I have denied, I think, three permits and revoked three," Bergevin told Electric Nevada. "And we have issued, I think, well in excess of 800.
"So that's pretty minimal problems."
Under the new state law, law-abiding Nevadans who complete a sheriff-approved firearms competence course, can now more easily receive the permits.
Not only have application costs been lowered, but the burden of proof has been removed from people seeking the concealed-carry permits.
Rather than citizens having to prove why they should be permitted to carry a firearm on their person, it is now county sheriffs who have to justify why an applicant should not receive a permit.
"Occasionally, you'll have somebody that isn't disqualified by the law but [who] I don't feel real comfortable with giving them a permit," said Bergevin. "But under the law they qualify, so I give them one."
One important goal of Nevada's law was to set uniform standards across the entire state.
In the past, says Robert Seligman, who worked for passage, "You had 17 different jurisdictions reading [the law] differently."
Some, he said, interpreted the law very loosely, and others interpreted the concealed weapons part of the statute much more strictly.
"There were counties that said carrying [a firearm in] a briefcase or a woman's purse was not on your person, [and] there were counties that would arrest you for that."
In the past, say other gun owners and conservative activists, permits were often only issued to applicants personally okayed by Nevada's county sheriffs. In some counties that meant people were treated unequally, they say, with permits often only going to sheriffs' personal friends.
In Washoe County, said Bergevin, Sheriff Dick Kirkland began loosening up the permit-issuing procedure soon after taking office in early 1994.
Even so, after the new state law took effect October 1, "there was kind of a rush," said the captain. For 1995 as a whole, the department issued 596 permits., Lately however, he said, the rate of applications has dropped off.
Bergevin doesn't expect law enforcement representatives to seek any significant modification of the new law in next year's legislative session.
"If there are any [problems], I think they are pretty minor," he said. "From my own standpoint, I don't see many problems."
The sheriff's office has procedures in place to deal with any problems involving permit holders.
"If they get arrested or something like that, or if something else happens that would put them in the category of being disqualified, then we'll act on it," Bergevin said.
we have had one revoked because the person
was served with a temporary order for protection against
domestic violence," Bergevin said.
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