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Nevada Democrats won’t override governor’s veto of hate crimes bill

Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) Photo: KOLO-TV screenshot

Amid a reported rise in anti-LGBTQ+ violence in the U.S., Nevada’s Democrat-controlled senate declined to override Gov. Joe Lombardo’s (R) veto of a bill that would have prevented people convicted of hate crimes from owning guns.

S.B. 171 is one of three pieces of gun safety legislation passed earlier this month. As ABC affiliate KOLO reported, the law would have prevented a person convicted of a hate crime from owning a firearm for a period of 10 years following their conviction. Both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are among the classes covered by Nevada’s hate crimes statute.

In a May 17 letter to Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D) detailing his reasons for vetoing the S.B. 171, Lombardo wrote that the bill “would go much further than existing law by depriving individuals of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

On Monday, Cannizaro moved not to consider a bill to override Lombardo’s veto, Nevada’s KTVN 2News reported. The move received no objections. Cannizaro hasn’t explained her decision not to attempt an override. However, the Senate’s 13 Democrats would’ve required a single vote from one of the chamber’s eight Republicans in order to override Lombardo’s veto.

“I desperately wish the Governor would put the safety of Nevadans over partisan politics,” Majority Floor Leader Sandra Jauregui (D) said in a statement earlier this month following the governor’s vetos. “After his time consoling the families of the 1 October massacre, I expected the governor to have the basic empathy to realize his responsibility to prevent future mass shootings and gun violence tragedies.”

A survivor of the 2017 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, Jauregui added, “I never want a Nevadan to experience the trauma that I and so many have endured.”

Nevada state Senator Dallas Harris (D) accused Lombardo of siding with the gun lobby over public safety.

“Nevadans overwhelmingly support improving community safety with common-sense gun violence prevention measures,” Harris said. “At a time when hate crimes are on the rise and communities are increasingly targeted because of race, ethnicity, religion, and other immutable parts of their identities, we should be doing more to protect our citizens. Instead, the Governor has turned his back on Nevadans facing this epidemic of gun violence.”

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned that an increase in threats of attacks and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people over the past year could lead to actual violence at large events like Pride celebrations. The DHS previously issued a warning last December of possible copycat attacks following the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In April, the Leadership Conference Education Fund (LCEF) released a report based on FBI hate crime data collected over the last 15 years, indicating that there is likely to be a spike in hate crimes ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Last year saw an increase in attacks on Pride events. A study by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) found that incidents of political violence targeting the LGBTQ+ community by July 2022 had already exceeded the total number of attacks reported in 2021. It also found that anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrations have been increasing since 2020.

Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric online, from media pundits, and from Republican politicians — including calling for the “elimination” of transgender people and suggestions that attacks on LGBTQ+ people are justified — have also coincided with incidents of armed members of far-right extremist groups showing up at LGBTQ+ events like Pride celebrations and drag performances.

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