Nevada Has Some Of The Most Lax Gun Laws In The Country — And Yes This Is The Time To Talk About It

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via David Becker/Getty Images

Nevada gun owners can carry without a permit — and that’s not even the worst of it

In the wake of what’s already been confirmed as the deadliest shooting in United States history, barely over a year since the last deadliest shooting in United States history, it’s time to acknowledge the problem of guns in America. No, it’s not too soon. It’s significant, especially after this most recent tragedy in our country’s long list of tragedies, because last night’s shooting at Mandalay Bay happened in the state with some of the most lax gun laws in the country — Nevada.

Where you can open or concealed carry a weapon while consuming alcohol. Yes, we’re serious.

As reports roll in confirming the horrifying details of the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music event at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, one thing is certain — the perpetrator had access to guns, and plenty of them. Early reports suggest the shooter, Stephen Paddock, 64, was a resident of Mesquite, Nevada, a town 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. He was found dead in his Mandalay Bay hotel room with a reported 10 guns in his possession, though it’s unclear if the weapons were registered to him, a licensed hunter.

According to the National Rifle Association, the state of Nevada has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country including:

  • Gun owners don’t need a permit to purchase rifles, shotguns or handguns.
  • They don’t need a license to obtain rifles, shotguns or handguns.
  • They also don’t need to register rifles, shotguns or handguns.
  • It’s legal to carry while drinking alcohol, up to a blood alcohol concentration of .10.
  • No permit is needed to carry rifles or shotguns — only handguns.
  • It’s legal to carry in a restaurant.
  • It’s legal to own a machine gun as long as it complies with federal law.

That last provision is especially significant after today’s shootings. Although officials have yet to confirm the exact type of weaponry Paddock used in his slaughter of 58 people and injury of another 515 and counting, it’s being speculated based on witness reports of nonstop gunfire that his weapons were either semi-automatic or automatic. While gun proponents are quick to point out that automatic weapons like machine guns are illegal to manufacture, they neglect to mention this:

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Newly manufactured machine guns have been prohibited by federal law for over 30 years, but any owned prior to May 19, 1986 are still legal. As of 2006, the number of registrations for machine guns in the United States stood at nearly 400,000. According to the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record’s database, that number is now closing in on half a million. We don’t yet know if Paddock’s weapons included machine guns and if they did, whether they were obtained and owned legally, but the fact is, they could’ve been under current Nevada state laws.

It’s also horrifying and confusing to note that according to, Nevada law dictates that a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher will get you a DUI, but you can have a weapon on your person with a BAC of up to .10. You can’t drive a car, but you can still have your gun on you. In public. In what world does this make sense?

This morning’s tragic events mark the 338th mass shooting in the United States this year. In one year. Something must be done, and it doesn’t involve our thoughts or prayers and it certainly doesn’t involve more guns — it involves meaningful action and laws put into place to stop people from possessing firearms that can mow down a crowd of people in a matter of minutes. This should be common sense in “the greatest country in the world” but sadly, it’s not.

Until significant action is taken and laws like the ones on the books in Nevada are scrutinized and overhauled, we will continue to wake to horrifying news like this. And so will our children.

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