Nevada Leader Appears to Reject Invitation to Gun Violence Summit With California

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A single rifle cartridge and a 30-round clip on display at a 2013 gun show in Utah.  (George Frey/Getty Images)

A powerful Nevada official appears to be rejecting an invitation from California lawmakers to participate in a legislative summit between the two states on gun safety reform to prevent mass shootings.

In a letter Wednesday, 27 California lawmakers invited Nevada State Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, and his Assembly colleagues to a summit this fall to "discuss avenues for interstate cooperation on gun safety reform."

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The move came in response to a mass shooting in Gilroy during its annual garlic festival last month, where a gunman killed three people and injured at least a dozen others with an assault rifle banned in California but legally sold in Nevada.

In a written statement to KQED Thursday, Frierson indicated that he will not attend a summit with California legislators, while supporting the idea of working with other states on gun violence legislation.

"While I will leave it to California leaders to participate in their summit," he said, "I do welcome collaboration on gun safety issues with colleagues from other states."

Frierson did not respond to further requests asking to clarify whether he was outright rejecting the offer.

His full statement to KQED reads:

I am proud of the work we did in 2019 session to address gun safety, including finally getting background checks on all gun sales, extreme risk protection orders, and more regulations around safely storing fire arms. I remain engaged with Nevadans on issued related to gun safety and recognize I am ultimately accountable to Nevada voters. Sadly gun violence is an epidemic across the country and I believe the best way to ensure we are fully addressing this as a country is by addressing it holistically at the local, state and federal level. While I will leave it to California leaders to participate in their summit, I do welcome collaboration on gun safety issues with colleagues from other states. When we reconvene as a legislature in 2021, I am confident we will be equipped to do advance legislation that reflects the support of Nevadans.

California remains one of the toughest states in the nation to procure a firearm, but the letter notes that the July 28 mass shooting in Gilroy, whose victims included a 6-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, shed light on potential weaknesses, such as guns flowing in from neighboring states.

"While California has enacted numerous gun safety measures," it reads, "this tragedy underscores the need for California to work closely with neighboring states to close loopholes and advance common sense gun safety measures."

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East Bay Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, who sits on the Legislature's Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which sent the letter, said the effort also came in response to a lack of federal action on gun legislation in the face of multiple mass shootings.

"We see time and time again, guns purchased in other states in violence here at home," she said in a tweet. "In [the] face of inaction in D.C., we're eager to work with neighbors to solve these issues and prevent future catastrophes."

Las Vegas was the site of a 2017 mass shooting in which 58 were killed, making it the deadliest in U.S. history. Nevada is known for having some of the least strict gun control laws in the U.S.

The letter, though, does praise recent legislative efforts in Nevada to push gun safety measures, including a bill passed last year mandating background checks for private-party gun sales, but said that "more can be done" to prevent violence in both Nevada and California.

In the letter, California legislators also note that a summit between the two states could inspire similar interstate coordination efforts in the future.

"This summit would be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate groundbreaking, state-level coordination that could serve as a model for other states across the United States," the letter reads.

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