'It's like the wild, wild West': Nevada's gun laws are receiving renewed scrutiny after the Las Vegas mass shooting

GettyImages 856529164Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesLas Vegas Metropolitan Police officers patrol Tropicana Avenue near Las Vegas Boulevard after a mass shooting at a country-music festival nearby on October 2, 2017.

Nevada’s gun laws received added attention after nearly 60 people were killed and more than 500 others injured when a gunman fired rifles from a Las Vegas hotel onto a densely packed crowd of concertgoers across the street.

The gunman, whom police identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Nevada, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Police said he aimed down and across the street at concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest festival, packed with thousands of people. Authorities found Paddock dead in his hotel room upon arrival.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the gunman appears to have used at least one fully automatic rifle and had between 18 and 20 weapons in his hotel room.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Nevada state law does not prohibit the transfer or possession of .50-calibre rifles, assault weapons, or high-capacity magazines. It also does not licence gun owners, require guns to be registered, limit the number of guns a person can purchase in one sale, or impose a waiting period on gun purchases.

Steve Gomez, an ABC News consultant who is a former Los Angeles police officer and FBI special agent, said the open-carry law in the Silver State means that virtually anybody can carry a gun in most places.

“It’s like the wild, wild West,” Gomez said.

When it comes to machine guns and automatic firearms, Nevada prohibits possession or use unless otherwise authorised by a 1986 federal law.

The federal law prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986. Machine guns owned before that date are still legal to own and can be transferred to another party with approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Nevada does not permit the open carrying of guns in public. But the state does not have any laws in place that prohibit guns in casinos and other gambling facilities, such as the Mandalay Bay. The resort, in its policies, states that weapons “are strictly prohibited” on the property.

The Silver State requires a purchaser to submit a variety of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Authorities are still investigating how the shooter came into possession of the firearms.

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