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Nevada governor strikes down 3 gun control bills in 1st vetoes of session

<p>Sheriff Joe Lombardo</p>
Sheriff Joe Lombardo

By Gabe Stern/Associated Press

Nevada Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoed a trio of gun control bills Wednesday, in an early indication of how he’ll respond to ambitious measures backed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

The vetoes were the first issued by Lombardo in his first year as governor. Legislators approved the measures after contentious hearings on gun control in the biennial session.

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“I will not support legislation that infringes on the constitutional rights of Nevadans,” Lombardo said in a statement.

One bill would have raised the eligible age to possess semiautomatic shotguns and assault weapons from 18 to 21. Another would have barred possession of a gun within 100 yards (91 meters) of an election site entrance with narrow exceptions, while also solidifying language meant to ban homemade “ghost guns.” A third bill would have prohibited owning a firearm within a decade of a gross misdemeanor or felony hate crime conviction.

The veto came moments before a scheduled news conference by Democrats to urge Lombardo to sign the legislation. Groups including the progressive advocacy group Battle Born Progress and the Democratic Senate and Assembly leadership stood in front of the legislative building and criticized the decision.

“I desperately wish the governor would put the safety of Nevadans ahead of partisan politics,” said Democratic Assembly Majority Floor Leader Sandra Jauregui, who sponsored two of the bills and survived the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting.

Lombardo, a former Clark County sheriff, has previously bucked other Republicans by supporting universal background checks. But he still positions himself as firmly pro-Second Amendment, while touting his NRA membership.