Last year, Nevada legislators passed AB 286, an anti-gun bill that would have made some elements of home gunsmithing illegal under a broad banner definition. As it was passed, the bill would have prohibited a person from possessing, purchasing, transporting or receiving an unfinished frame or receiver of a firearm or assembling a firearm without a serial number. The law was set to go into effect this month and the punishment for violating it is a criminal mis-demeanor with repeat offenders receiving felony charges. If that sounds like a vague description with a severe punishment, it’s because it is and Lyon County District Court Judge John Schlegelmilch agreed.
Last month, Judge Schlegelmilch ruled that portions of the law are unconstitutionally vague and the law was therefore unenforcable. The ruling came after a lawsuit was brought against the state by Polymer80, Inc., a Dayton-based firearms manufacturer. Polymer80 argued that enforcement violated Nevada Constitution’s due process clause. In his ruling, Judge Schlegelmilch said, “… Nevada has established no authority at all to determine when an ‘unfinished frame or reciever’ actually comes into existence. The most any court can glean from the definition is that it is something less than a firearm and more than a block of raw material.”
Polymer80, which designs and develops firearms and after-market accessories, argued that it would be subject to criminal prosecution for conducting its normal business. In a statement, CEO David Borges said, “AB 286 is a vague and unlawful legislation that targets our company specifically for conducting a lawful business.” In July, Judge Schlegelmilch had granted a temporary restraining order to block parts of the law. In that initial ruling he said, “AB 286 failed to provide a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what AB 286 criminalizes.” He added that Polymer80 would face irreparable harm trying to meet the demands of such a vague definition.
This law is dangerous and, even though this ruling makes it unenforceable, we need to be wary of this type of legislation. In reality, the unclear language in this bill could easily be hijacked by anti-gun advocates and expanded, as we’ve seen so often in recent years and with other laws. Even the state’s argument that the company could serialize the products it produces doesn’t provide clarity. The language in this bill states that products could only be serialized if required by federal law. So, even if the company tried to follow the very letter of this law, there are still loopholes that would open it up to a criminal lawsuit.
Call to Action: It’s no surprise this law was passed on party lines. It’s yet another attempt to restrict the Second Amendment while doing nothing to stop actual crime. Instead it would have criminalized legal owners and sellers of guns. As of June 2021, Las Vegas Metro only tracked six instances of homemade, non-serialized firearms in the preceding 12-month period. And, none of those firearms were used in a crime. Which “criminals” is this bill trying to stop exactly? We have a midterm election this year. Let’s vote in lawmakers with some common sense that will actually work for the betterment of our great state and not against it.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”