US

Reno bans the use of WHIPS unless you have a permit

Nevada city bans the use of WHIPS unless you have a permit because 911 has been flooded by callers who mistake distinctive ‘crack’ for gunfire

  • The Reno City Council passed an ordinance that prohibits people from using or possessing whips in the city’s downtown 
  • Residents in the area will now need to obtain a city permit for future purchases
  • The policy is in response to an increasing number of 911 calls by people mistaking the periodic snaps and cracks of whips as gunshots
  • Complaints about whips have nearly doubled since the beginning of 2020, police said in a statement 
  • Reno’s new whip ban is not the only one in the US as Kaua’i County, Hawaii, passed a similar law in 2018 


Nevada, home to legalized gambling and even prostitution, is cracking down on whips after the Reno City Council banned the possession and use of the Western staple because too many 911 callers have mistaken its distinctive sound for gunfire.

Whips are a part of daily life in many rural areas where ranchers and livestock operators use the sharp ‘crack’ produced when the whip’s tip breaks the speed of sound to scare and direct or herd animals.

Police recommended banning their use downtown because the sound resembles that of shots being fired from a firearm, Reno Police Chief Jason Soto said. He said they’re also being used in public areas for fights and intimidation.

‘We just realized it was a growing complaint we were getting. We started to see calls that were being escalated and becoming more violent,’ Soto said earlier. ‘There’s a time and a place for a lot of different types of activities. I think being in the middle of a group of people is probably not the best time.’

The council in Reno, famed as the Biggest Little City in the World, voted 6-1 to approve the new ordinance two weeks ago on October 13th. 

Carrying a whip in the city’s downtown without government permission is now a misdemeanor

Reno, Nevada, has outlawed the use of whips in the downtown area since beginning of October after an increasing number of 911 calls by people mistaking the periodic snaps and cracks of whips for gunshots

Reno, Nevada, has outlawed the use of whips in the downtown area since beginning of October after an increasing number of 911 calls by people mistaking the periodic snaps and cracks of whips for gunshots

The black outline in map of Reno shows the downtown area where whips are now considered to be unlawful unless you have a permit

The black outline in map of Reno shows the downtown area where whips are now considered to be unlawful unless you have a permit

Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus cast the only ‘no’ vote. She said she wants the ordinance applied city-wide and expressed concern that the ban targets certain demographics, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.

Lily Baran spoke against the ordinance earlier on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union. She said that the homeless community is known for using whips for self-defense and that the ordinance will ‘perpetuate the criminalization of the unhoused.’

She added that she wished city council members would spend more time discussing and evaluating community care rather than enforcing laws that displace homeless people.

City attorney Karl Hall explained on Wednesday that the ordinance is restricted to the downtown area because complaints to the police were concentrated in that area. 

He added that there may be areas outside of downtown where whips may be useful. He said that those who have a legitimate use for a whip downtown can receive a permit.

Reno’s new whip ban is certainly unusual, but it’s not unique. Kaua’i County, Hawaii, passed a similar ban in 2018. 

Complaints about whips have nearly doubled since the beginning of 2020, police said. They received 63 calls for service involving the use of whips from January 2019 to September 2019.

The number grew to 103 from January 2020 to September 2020 and the department has received 176 whip-related calls since then, the city’s staff report said.

Anthony Muniz 19, was arrested and charged after hitting a victim with a whip and pulling a gun on the victim in June

Anthony Muniz 19, was arrested and charged after hitting a victim with a whip and pulling a gun on the victim in June 

The latest whip-related attack was in June, when a man was taken into custody after hitting a victim with a whip and pulling a gun on the victim, Reno Police Department said.   

Officers said 19-year-old Anthony Muniz was in an argument with the victim when Muniz hit the victim with a whip near the Virginia Street Plaza around 9.00p.m.

The victim attempted to take the whip when officials say Muniz pulled a gun and threatened the victim. Investigators say the gun was a pellet gun. Muniz was then arrested for battery with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon and carrying and concealing a weapon.

The new ordinance will state that it is illegal for anyone to possess, carry or use a whip in the downtown corridor without a permit.

It also states that it is illegal for anyone to crack a whip to ‘injure, annoy, interfere with, or endanger the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others’ within city limits. It doesn’t apply to private property.

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