Although it’s unclear exactly what weapon Stephen Paddock used to kill at least 50 people in a mass shooting during a concert in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 1, witnesses say it sounded like “a machine gun.” Police say “at least eight guns,” a number of them long rifles, were found in his hotel room overlooking the venue.
The nonprofit Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, part of the Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation, co-founded by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, gives Nevada an “F” on its gun laws (the worst grade), and ranks the strength of its regulations as 27th out of 50 states. You do not need a permit to buy a rifle, shotgun or handgun, nor do you need to register the weapon, or be licensed to own one. Nevada allows open carry without a permit, and requires one for concealing your handgun, but it is a so-called shall-issue state. That means authorities are required to issue a concealed carry permit if you meet certain minimal requirements (like not being a convicted felon). There is also no limit on how many guns you can buy at one time, nor is there a waiting time to purchase a weapon.
The state does submit mental-health records to a national background check system for firearms. A new law that required background checks for gun sales between private parties was narrowly approved by voters in 2016 but it is still under debate. The FBI said it would not conduct the checks, and the state attorney general deemed the law unenforceable before it even took effect.
According to the National Rifle Association, in Nevada you can own, purchase or sell a machine gun that is registered according to federal regulations, which means that you can own a machine gun that was manufactured before 1986. Ten states limit machine guns in addition to the federal law, allowing local or state law enforcement to prevent people from having them, Lindsay Nichols, federal policy director at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence told Quartz. Nevada has no law of its own regulating assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines. A 2013 investigation from Mother Jones showed that large-capacity magazines (which use more than 10 rounds) were used in half of 62 mass shootings its reporters looked into, including the mass killings in Aurora, Colorado, and Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Eight states ban such magazines, and seven ban assault weapons.