Nevada Sheriff’s Deputy Claims Open Carry is Illegal in Reno

This was received, via the submission form, from an open carry advocate in Reno who wishes to remain anonymous. It recounts his encounter with a member of the  Washoe County Sheriff’s Department during a traffic stop in Reno, NV. More importantly, it addresses some questions that arose due to the fact that this particular police officer was under the impression that openly carrying a gun in Reno is illegal (spoiler: it’s very legal). Additional comments and reaction is included below.

I’ve made some spelling, grammar, and punctuation corrections, as well as adding links throughout for informational purposes, but in terms of content, this is the story in its entirety as received:

I moved here about a year ago and have been open carrying in Reno, Nevada since I arrived, never had much trouble had a lot of people come up to me and ask about it.

So, today I decided to register and submit a post (originally on NVCopBlock.org) because on the way home from moving stuff out of storage we got pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy on a motorcycle. He gave us a ticket for my derpy friend not having his registration on him, but otherwise everything went fine.We immediately told him we were both armed and open carrying. He didn’t even draw or look too worried, just told us to put our hands on the dash. Then three seconds later, he told us to get out and switch the license plates around because he had the registration sticker on the front plates not the back. So we did that while he was issuing the ticket.

Open Carry is Completely Legal and Unrestricted in Nevada

Afterwards, he gave us the ticket and asked us why were open carrying and then proceeded to laugh when we told him it was our right and it’s for our own protection etc., etc…He mocked us and said we should just relax and enjoy life sometimes…(Whatever that means?)I then replied, ”well we cant exactly carry you around with us 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, sir.”

We bantered back-n-forth a bit and then, when we were about to leave, he said ”If I really wanted to be an ass, I could cite you for open carrying in Reno, because the Reno city ordinance overrides the state law about open carrying in the state of Nevada.” He then went on to tell us we should look it up and probably not open carry anymore and kept saying ”he was pretty sure it overrides the state ordinance.”

Artist Rendering of the Person who Submitted this Story

When he said that it came off VERY threatening and I wanted to start an argument right then and there, but that probably wouldn’t of been the best idea…I got his name and badge id…if I can do anything with it…

So I started googling….and I’ve researched the laws here A LOT before I even started open carrying…every time I hear something I always look it up…but for a sheriff to bring some BS city of Reno code that overrides the constitution and state law made me research some more…and that’s how I found this thread and I’ve since printed up 10 of your excellent pamphlets! Thanks!

I’m 99.99% certain that he is incorrect…and please correct me if I’m wrong…but how do police, cops, sheriffs, whatever not know the law? This is mind boggling….

ALSO what should I do with a officer who DOESN’T know the law and tries to do something about me legally carrying ?

I wish I would of recorded the whole ordeal…isn’t there like a hotline I can call and it records my stuff? and then I can download the call on my computer?

As stated earlier, it is very much legal to open carry in Nevada, which of course includes Reno. In regards to Reno law taking precedence over state laws, nothing could be further from the truth. The first problem with that idea is that there aren’t any Reno statutes prohibiting open carrying of firearms. The second flaw (and the reason for the first one) is that the State of Nevada specifically restricts local jurisdictions from passing gun laws that impose more severe restrictions on gun rights than those imposed by state law.

NRS 244.364, NRS 268.418, and NRS 269.222 state that the legislature reserves to itself the right to regulate the transfer, sale, purchase, possession, ownership, transportation, registration and licensing of firearms and ammunition in Nevada, and that no county, city or town respectively may infringe upon these rights. (emphasis added)

In relation to the Constitution, we’re unfortunately at the mercy of whoever is interpreting it and in the case of gun laws the Supreme Court interpreted it to mean that states have a right to restrict how and where citizens may exercise the Second Amendment . Which is why there are varying degrees of legality for openly carrying firearms throughout the different states. That’s one of the many reasons why relying on a piece of paper to “protect” your rights is a bad idea.

Fortunately for those of us living in Nevada though, our state has one of the most liberal (in the literal sense) applications of gun laws. In fact, with the exception of the requirement to register guns in Clark County (which has been eliminated since this incident happened and never applied to Reno, regardless), there are no restrictions on open carry within Nevada.

However, less fortunate for us is the reality that it really isn’t that unusual for “police, cops, sherriffs, whatever” to not know the laws that they are planning to enforce and often there’s little or nothing we can do about it. In answer to the question of what you should do when confronted with a heavily armed government employee that doesn’t understand gun laws, my advice would be to assert your rights, while attempting to avoid a violent confrontation that could go very wrong. When in doubt, the safest bet is to wait it out and then file a complaint after the fact (that’s where that name and badge number come into play). Sometimes it can actually make a difference. However, that’s a choice you need to make for yourself.

And of course, we advocate always recording any interaction that you have for police to create a unbiased record of exactly what happened and why. I’m not personally aware of any service that records downloadable audio, but Bambuser has put out a great app that allows you to record and stream live video from your cell phone that is instantly posted to the internets and therefore can’t be erased or tampered with if the phone is confiscated.

Then get that video to us

EPN

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Kelly W. Patterson

a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada CopBlock, Editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official CopBlock Press Passes.
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