Nevada’s New Gun Law

Much to the delight of the pro-Second Amendment press, Nevada passed a sweeping gun law in the just-adjourned legislative session.  The internets are full of hot-takes on the gun law, but it might be time for a more sober1)call it “lukewarm”analysis of the text of the new law; then we will be able to bloviate with much greater ease.

State Senator Michael Roberson2)Republican, Henderson stated the goals of the legislation during a meeting of the Assembly Committee on Judiciary3)from 23 April 2015:

To keep guns out of the hands of those who have proven their propensity to commit violence against those they supposedly love4)This sentiment feels a bit snarky; I speculate that Sen. Roberson is referring to domestic violence cases and should protect;

To allow law abiding gun owners to appropriately defend themselves in their vehicles as they currently can in their homes; and

To ensure that our Second Amendment rights are administered in a fair and uniform way across the State, and to provide a means of redress when that is not the case.

 

We will now go through the first two sections of Senate Bill (SB) 175, which address Sen. Roberson’s second objective listed above, while the first and third will be reserved for next time.

 

Section 1 of the Gun Law

The first section of SB175 addresses the definition of justifiable homicide5)you may have heard this referred to as the “Castle Doctrine:

Section 1. NRS 200.120 is hereby amended to read as follows:

1. Justifiable homicide is the killing of a human being in necessary self-defense, or in defense of an occupied habitation, an occupied motor vehicle or person, against one who manifestly intends or endeavors to commit a crime of violence, or against any person or persons who manifestly intend and endeavor, in a violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious manner, to enter the occupied habitation or occupied motor vehicle, of another for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein. (emphasis added)

2. A person is not required to retreat before using deadly force as provided in subsection 1 if the person:

(a) Is not the original aggressor;

(b) Has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used; and

(c) Is not actively engaged in conduct in furtherance of criminal activity at the time deadly force is used.

 

Addressing Sen. Roberson’s second objective, besides being permitted to defend your home with lethal force, the law allows lethal force to be used in defending an occupied car6)as in not empty, I doubt this statute would protect you from shooting someone breaking into your car if you or a loved one are not inside of it.

Some states require a person to flee if it reasonable to do so.  Nevada does not, provided the three elements of subsection 2 are met.  The law is even more protective than you may realize; wait until you see Section 2.

 

Section 2 of the Gun Law

Section 2 elaborates on the permissive deadly force established in subsection 2 of Section 1.

2. There is a rebuttable presumption that the circumstances were sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person and that the person killing really acted under the influence of those fears and not in a spirit of revenge if the person killing:

(a) Knew or reasonably believed that the person who was killed was entering unlawfully and with force, or attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the occupied habitation or occupied motor vehicle, of another;

(b) Knew or reasonably believed that the person who was killed was committing or attempting to commit a crime of violence; and

(c) Did not provoke the person who was killed. (emphasis added)

 

The key words are “rebuttable presumption,” which mean “A presumption which may be rebutted by evidence. Otherwise called a ‘disputable’ presumption. A species of legal presumption which holds good until disproved.”7)Black’s Law Dictionary.

Therefore, “holds good until disproved” as applied, will assume that the shooter defending his/her home or automobile is in the right until the person who was shot can prove otherwise.

I assume these sections of SB 175 are written to dissuade folks inclined to rob homes or automobiles with the presumption that the potential violent robber will think twice about the crime knowing that s/he may be legally killed by the owner.  I question if the folks motivated to committ violent crime respond to disincentives in the way the law hopes they do.

Although we are having so much fun, we will have wait and continue our discussion of SB 175 until next week’s episode.  Included will be how the new law assists victims of domestic violence, and the law’s new theories of liability.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. call it “lukewarm”
2. Republican, Henderson
3. from 23 April 2015
4. This sentiment feels a bit snarky; I speculate that Sen. Roberson is referring to domestic violence cases
5. you may have heard this referred to as the “Castle Doctrine
6. as in not empty, I doubt this statute would protect you from shooting someone breaking into your car if you or a loved one are not inside of it
7. Black’s Law Dictionary
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