Carson City IHOP rampage sparks call for changes to gun laws


By Martha Bellisle, Reno Gazette-Journal

Law enforcement leaders, a shooting victim and some lawmakers are calling for a review of Nevada’s gun laws after a mentally ill man shot 11 people with an assault weapon at a Carson City restaurant last month, leaving five dead.

Some states have responded to mass killings by banning assault weapons, outlawing high-capacity magazines or requiring gun owners to get licenses and release their mental health records.

And now, after the IHOP shooting, some in Nevada have called for similar state-level restrictions and bans on some firearms. But others oppose new firearm restrictions based on what they say is a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy, and say the call for tougher laws is simply an effort to curtail the right to bear arms.

Nevada National Guard Sgt. Caitlin Kelley, one of the victims in the IHOP attack, responded to the shooting by calling for a ban on assault weapons, which can be purchased without a background check at many gun shows or through private sellers.

“I can’t imagine why we are even selling assault weapons to civilians,” said Kelley, who was shot in the foot and still uses a wheelchair. “There’s no reason for an AK-47 or an M-16 or an M-4 to be in a civilian’s home.”

Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley agreed, saying: “I don’t see any logic to having assault weapons available to the public.” But he said banning such weapons would spark a sharp response by gun-rights advocates.

Robert Smith, president of the Nevada State Rifle and Pistol Association, said guns are not the problem — the problem lies with the people using them.

“It isn’t the weapon that’s bad, it’s the person” who commits crimes with the weapons, he said. “If you keep them away from private citizens, you’re making the private citizens unarmed targets.”

Semi-automatic assault weapons can easily be converted into automatic weapons — which are the same thing as machine guns — with a simple kit available online or at gun shows, officials said.

What happened at the IHOP “was as close to a war as most people will ever come, and they were helpless to defend against it,” Haley said. “But because of our love affair with weapons, we are subjecting the public to this type of violence. If this is going to change, the public has to stand up and demand change.”

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Comments (15)
  1. dogwoman says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    Amendment II.

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    That’s all it says, and that’s exactly what it means.

  2. John says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    Dogwoman, among Constitutional scholars there is absolute agreement that that is the single most poorly written sentence in the entire constitution. They may all disagree on what it means, but it there is universal agreement that the sentence is almost useless. What does well regulated mean? Who is the militia? Does militia imply registry? Why do they talk about a militia and then switch to people? Which people, the army, civilians, the national guard?

    Just so ya know, I have lots of guns and don’t let a week go by without using them.

  3. dogwoman says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    John, I personally think that your “Constitutional Scholars” are all overthinking it. It just ain’t that complicated.
    Whatever the motivation, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall NOT be infringed.”

  4. SmedleyButler says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    Selectively ignoring the introductory militia part of the amendment is the NRA goons way of shepherding the easily manipulated duped and stupid into believing they are justified in using guns to off the hated other/liberals in defense of el Rushbo’s right to be an A$$hole.

  5. dogwoman says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    Whoa, Smedley! Gone off your meds? It doesn’t say murder is okay. It says we all have the right to be armed. For defense. Against the crazy people who would “off” US? Chill.

  6. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    If someone in the IHOP had exercised their right to carry a weapon in Nevada, fewer people might have died. Remember that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

  7. the conservation robot says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    That is the single most ridiculous argument ever. The man had a full automatic rifle. How many people out there are trained well enough to respond to that situation? People who know how to handle themselves when their adrenaline is raging through their brain. Trained professionals make mistakes and shoot the wrong people. What makes think joe pistol is going to be even equally effective?
    You live in a fantasy world.

    Also dogwoman, that is a document written by lwayers… and it is simple? The word people is not specific. What people? People in militias? All people? White land owning people?
    Well regulated militia. What can be more simple than that? How can you be against regulation of guns, with those words in the constitution? You are under thinking it. Conveniently.

  8. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: October 26, 2011

    I do not live in a fantasy world but one where people must depend on themselves. The National Guard personnel were not armed but could have protected themselves and others had they been armed.

  9. dogwoman says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    Geee whiz, Robot. It says “the people”. Not, the military people, not the farming people, not the licensed people, it just says “the people”.

  10. Lisa says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    So dogwoman… I believe the writers and signers of the constitution meant exactly that just as you say. So everyone who wants to is free to own a musket and a single shot (small round bullet) pistol, both of which require the pouring of gunpowder and the packing of the bullet after each use. Perhaps even a sword. That is fine by me.

  11. nature bats last says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    guns kill anything that moves. I hate guns and i hate people who use guns to kill people and animals. Get rid of the guns and the whackos that want them for “sport” can go along with the guns. No guns, no shooting of people and animals, and signs, and trees, and cars, and buildings.
    That is the one part of the constitution i disagree with. NO GUNS FOR ANYONE!!!!!!!!

  12. dogwoman says - Posted: October 27, 2011

    Lisa, it says “Arms”. It doesn’t specify what kind. Please.

  13. David says - Posted: October 28, 2011

    Amazing how we constantly hear that semi-auto rifles are “easily” converted to full auto.

    My question is:

    Show us what you are talking about and that they actually work. They won’t show that, because quite simply they don’t work! Stupid drawings by stupid people posted on the internet ARE NOT REALITY!

    Twice in my life the mere presence my own personal firearm has prevented me being a violent crime statistic. The fact I am here to write this is living proof of the validity of the 2nd Ammendment.

  14. Ulysses Noman says - Posted: October 28, 2011

    Sgt Kelly needs to review her oath of enlistment, where she swore to support and defend the Constitution, which includes the 2nd Amendment.

    And for the moron above who thinks ‘militia’ means a state-run body and not the private individuals of this nation, he too is grossly ignorant of what the Founders declared and argued in crafting that Amendment. It absolutely was meant to enable the arming of the general populace, who having just thrown off the yoke of an oppressive government were making damned sure they’d retain the means to do so again, if and when it became necessary. THAT is what the 2nd Amendment is for, THAT is why it was included in the Bill of Rights for inclusion in our Constitution at its ratification.

    And anyone that think’s it’s just for hunting or at the convenience of a thuggish government, you are grossly ignorant and/or indoctrinated.

  15. Lou Gots says - Posted: November 16, 2011

    Typical gun-grabber ploy. A crime is committed with a fully-automatic Class III firearm, already heavily restricted by Federal law, and the incident is exploited for a call to go after other types of firearms.

    One of the reasons gun-grabbers lose, keep losing and lose some more in the gun-rights debate is ploys like this. It’s called, “lack of credibility”–everybody knows they lie all the time.