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Lombardo defends veto of ghost gun ban

Jon Ralston at left questions Governor Joe Lombardo at right during a live event.
The Nevada Independent Via YouTube
Gov. Joe Lombardo defended his veto of a ghost gun ban during a live event hosted by The Nevada Independent on March 6, 2024.

Gov. Joe Lombardo uses lower court ruling to justify his veto of an untraceable firearms ban.

During a live event on March 6, Gov. Joe Lombardo defended his veto of a ghost gun ban passed by the legislature last year.

“It isn’t [that] I’m against gun control because I vetoed those bills. They don’t pass constitutional muster,” he told Nevada Independent editor Jon Ralston.

It’s the first time he’s spoken about his veto since an investigation by KUNR and APM Reports found he downplayed the number of the untraceable weapons recovered by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which he used to lead as sheriff.

Lombardo claimed his decision to strike down the ban was justified by a preliminary injunction granted by a federal judge in Delaware.

Last May, he pointed to the same case in a public message attached to his veto.

“Last fall, a Delaware judge ruled that prohibitions on manufacturing and possession are not ‘consistent with the nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation,’” it said.

But Nevada’s ghost gun ban would have been similar to laws in California and Oregon, which have not been challenged.

The case in question pits a group of plaintiffs, including Las Vegas-based Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., against a ghost gun ban passed by the Delaware state legislature.

The judge overseeing the case, who was appointed by former president Donald Trump, blocked the state from enforcing its law in Sept. 2022 while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts. The final outcome is still pending.

Ghost guns are partially-complete firearms, often sold online without background checks. In recent years, they’ve increasingly appeared at crime scenes.

In 2021, while Lombardo was still sheriff, he said officers had seized just six of the weapons in the preceding year. But according to public records from his own department, the department had actually impounded 252 ghost guns in that time.

Bert is KUNR’s senior correspondent. He covers stories that resonate across Nevada and the region, with a focus on environment, political extremism and Indigenous communities.
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