Nearly one-third of Nevada's 63 lawmakers attended an invitation-only event the National Rifle Association hosted Saturday at a Las Vegas shooting range, organizers said.
Some 20 lawmakers from southern Nevada learned about various firearms, including handguns, assault weapons and machine guns, before they were allowed to fire them at Battlefield Vegas, said Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas.
A similar event is planned for northern Nevada lawmakers, but details have not been announced.
More Democrats than Republicans showed up Saturday, Fiore said, and most of the lawmakers took advantage of the opportunity to fire all kinds of weapons. She declined to identify them, saying they asked for privacy.
"It was a fun, educational event. We taught for three hours and played for one," Fiore told The Associated Press. "I was excited about the questions that were asked and the openness of the dialogue."
The Legislature is expected to tackle a variety of firearm legislation this year. It convenes in a little more than two weeks amid a national debate about gun violence spurred by a gunman who killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Connecticut last month.
Saturday's event was designed to instruct lawmakers on the history and uses of different firearms as well as their differences, said Fiore, a lifetime NRA member.
"We have a great bond with lawmakers from both parties and are working together to make sure we pass legislation that's for our constituents," she said.
A group of protesters greeted lawmakers as they entered the shooting range. Some waved signs reading "More Schools, Less Guns" and "Not Gun Grabber, Just Common Sense."
Protesters were upset that the four-hour event was closed to the public and the news media, said protest organizer Brian Fadie of ProgressNow Nevada.
The protesters want legislation requiring universal background checks for gun buyers as well as a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
"We're trying to dispel the myth that NRA lobbyists are incredibly powerful and they (lawmakers) need to do whatever they say," Fadie said. "We're hoping lawmakers can stand up to the gun manufacture lobby and show them there are common-sense gun safety reforms we can make that most Americans can agree on."
Fadie said about 30 protesters turned out, while Fiore pegged the number at six.
The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and the Culinary Union also sponsored the protest, Fadie said.