Sheriff’s Message, Week of February 11th
We can all agree anyone suffering from Alzheimer or dementia should not drive. Fortunately there are administrative processes to “take away” driving privileges. Occasionally we do request an administrative DMV hearing for persons who have medical conditions that pose public safety threats while driving a motor vehicle upon a highway and still holds a valid driver’s license.
Before going any further, my statements are not meant to diminish the loss of life or affect the grieving process for those family and friends of the Florida victims. As the Sheriff for this county, along with many of my counterparts, we have been seeing for decades that our behavioral health system and making appropriate mental health entries into their background history so they can’t buy, own, or possess guns is BROKEN.
As the left continues to point fingers at the NRA and others on the right and the rights stand firmly behind the 2nd Amendment, which has been recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, nothing will be resolved. The behavioral health field, along with state and federal legislators needs to address this issue.
Hypothetically, let’s say the LCSO gets the same social media tip and we interview the person. We could seize them for an involuntary mental health admission to be evaluated if facts support they “are a danger to others.” In Nevada, this is referred to as a Legal 2000. If they voluntarily give up their guns, we can hold them for “safekeeping.” If they refuse, it would be extremely difficult to get a court order. After being discharged from a mental health facility, they now cannot possess guns pursuant to NRS 202.360(2a). They say “Give my guns to my parents/friends” and there is no civil forfeiture or remedy to deny that request.
Here is where the real problem lies. In our hypothetical scenario, the mental health hospital does not make administrative mental health facility admissions entries into federal databases that intertie with background information. Additionally, mental health treatment providers do not make mentally ill civil adjudications requests for federal databases to flag mental health warnings for gun denial. When law enforcement interacts with mental health persons and conducts background checks after seeing guns, there are no mental health entries to prohibit them from buying, owning, or possessing a gun. When the same person walks into a gun store and completes a state-run background check, again, there is nothing to deny the sale.
Unlike the administrative and/or civil processes available to us with persons dangerously driving cars with medical conditions, nothing keeps guns away from persons diagnosed with mental health issues. This is the BROKEN part of the system and requires legislative action to fix. If done right, there is little doubt that everyone can agree with the outcomes.
We had a good meeting with the FBI’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge from the Reno office. They see the same growth issues and that county lines are becoming more blurred. The reality is we are becoming a greater Northern Nevada region. This is indicative with our Special Investigative Unit working with Carson City and Reno’s specialized investigative units during the past month that resulted in the arrest of 23 people and the seizure of 13.5 ounces of Methamphetamine, 4 ounces of Heroin, 245 prescription pills, 2 ounces of cocaine, 12 firearms, 2 vehicles, and almost $7,000 in cash. There is no doubt that much of this dope would have eventually made it into Lyon County.
This week we caught the person dumping bales of hay and illegally feeding the horses at the Dayton Cemetery. Because of the way the law was written, she had to be warned. However, she was clearly advised if caught again, she will be arrested for a gross misdemeanor crime.
It was also a sad week as three lives were lost and three families struggle with their loss from traffic accidents on Hwy 50 in Dayton and Stagecoach. The LCSO mourns with them. While the loss of any life is tragic, it is even more heart-wrenching when they are young. Having our Silver Springs SRO at the accident scene, knowing both girls and their families, really helped facilitate some closure.
And finally, since this message was a bit lengthy and started out with guns, it will close with guns. This week I backed up a deputy for a domestic violence call. After seizing several methamphetamine glass pipes, we began seizing several guns; however, it was the two ¼ pound improvised explosive devices in the closet that concerned me. We did seize his Washoe County CCW permit, and informed him that we will be requesting WCSO to revoke that privilege. It just wasn’t his day, but laws related to illegal drugs, explosives, and CCW permits are very clear.
I will be out of state next weekend, so there will not be a message, but as always, keep the faith!