Last year, on June 7, 2021, the Nevada State Assembly passed a law AB 286, that tried to prohibit the possession, sale, or transport of an “unfinished frame or receiver”. This is part of anti-gun Democrats’ efforts to crack down on so-called “ghost” guns, which they view as the boogieman.
Dean Weingarten of AmmoLand correctly noted that “definition of something which is unfinished is problematic.” He then asked the following questions: When does a process start? At what point does it become “unfinished”? Does it start with molten metal, the combination of chemicals in a mold, or the first cut of a saw or turn of a drill?
Shortly after this bill was passed, Polymer80 filed a lawsuit on June 22 challenging AB 286 as unconstitutionally vague. The aggrieved party used the due process clause of the Nevada Constitution to justify their argument.
Polymer80 and the State of Nevada filed Motions for Summary Judgement and opposition to the opponent’s Motion for Summary Judgement.
Weingarten observed “Summary judgment is granted when the law and the facts of the case are so clear cut no trial is needed for a court to rule on the matter.”
The AmmoLand writer cited the “Unfinished frame or receiver” language present in AB 286:
9.“Unfinished frame or receiver” means a blank, a casting or a machined body that is intended to be turned into the frame or lower receiver of a firearm with additional machining and which has been formed or machined to the point at which most of the major machining operations have been completed to turn the blank, casting or machined body into a frame or lower receiver of a firearm even if the fire-control cavity area of the blank, casting or machined body is still completely solid and unmachined.
Both parties agreed on the basic facts of the case.
Nevada gun owners caught a major break on December 10, 2021, when the Third Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada issued a Summary Judgement in favor of Polymer80. It struck down the law as unconstitutionally vague. The opinion read as follows:
The definition does not tell anyone when during the manufacturing process a blank, casting, or machined body (whatever those terms mean) has gone through the “major machining operations” (whatever those are) to turn that blank, casting or machined body into a frame or lower receiver of a firearm (whatever that may be), a person of ordinary intelligence could not proscribe their conduct to comply with the law. As a result, this Court finds that the text of AB 286 does not provide fair notice of whatever it criminalizes. To this end, this Court asked on multiple occasions during oral argument on the Motion for Summary Judgement, what those terms as used in AB 286 mean. Tellingly, the Defendants could not in any manner explain their meaning(s).
This was definitely a small victory for Nevada gun owners. Nevada has taken a significant anti-gun turn in the past five years as witnessed by its passage of a universal background checks law, a bump stock ban, and a red flag gun confiscation order.
Because of the state’s anti-gun drift, Nevada is ranked in a sub-par 26th place for Guns & Ammo magazine’s best states for gun owners’ rankings. Regardless of these challenges, Nevada appears to be much more competitive electorally. For example, in 2008, Barack Obama won the state by a margin 53% of 46%
By contrast, in 2020, Joe Biden beats Donald Trump by a margin 50% of to 48%. The state is clearly trending red. Gun owners in the Nevada can accelerate this reddening of Nevada politics by doubling on Second Amendment activism, something that’s a proven energizer for Republican voters.
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