Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing in our diverse country, but how is one to know whether a viewpoint is fit for public consumption, or within the bounds of the “politically correct”?

Hint: If the state Department of Motor Vehicles approves a specialty license plate honoring whatever you cherish and value, it must be OK.

The Legislature’s Commission on Special License Plates recently got an update on the types of plates that have been approved, as well as some that are pending approval. The list of how many the DMV has processed for each type is like a barometer of public interests.

There are more than three dozen specialty plates to choose from. By far the most popular is the Las Vegas commemorative plate, and why not? Vegas is the first thing people think about when you mention Nevada. The design features the highly recognizable “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, with its retro styling and classic appeal. You don’t see a lot of them here up north, but more than 90,000 active plates are out there and they have raised more than $20 million over the years. The portion not kept by the DMV goes toward projects dealing with the city’s past, including the restoration of historic buildings.

The second most popular specialty plate honors veterans. There are nearly 40,000 currently on the road. Whenever you see a vehicle sporting one of these plates it is only natural to drive respectfully in their presence.

In a near tie for third and fourth place are the state’s relatively new sesquicentennial plate and the one featuring Lake Tahoe Basin. Both have just over 18,000 active users.

In the fifth-place slot is the patriotic United We Stand plate, featuring an eagle and Old Glory. The 17,000 people who have this plate are helping to support anti-terrorism preparedness through the State Emergency Response Commission.

All of the other plates have fewer than 10,000 active users. It is interesting to note that the University of Nevada Reno plate is more popular than the UNLV plate, by a ratio of three-to-two. It’s also interesting that the “Horse Power” plate helping to fund the protection of mustangs and burros is displayed by virtually the same number of drivers who have the “Support of Rodeo” plate.

Wildlife plates are popular around rural Nevada. These include NDOW’s “Conserve Wildlife” plate featuring a mule deer, rainbow trout and sage grouse; as well as the Nevada Wildlife Record Book Committee’s “Support Wildlife” plate sporting a bighorn ram. That plate could be seeing some competition soon, as the DMV reported a Nevada Bighorns Unlimited plate will be issued in March.

Of course, all of these plates have to go through a vetting process and design reviews. This is where a subject must pass the “politically correct” test. For example, a little more than a decade ago the state was prepared to release a plate honoring its role in the nation’s nuclear testing history, but too many people objected to the mushroom cloud design. The version of the plate that was approved features the unrecognizable outline of the Test Site with the relatively benign symbol for atomic energy superimposed on it.

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How about a plate supporting gun rights?

Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler asked the DMV about the Second Amendment plate design that was approved by the 2015 Legislature.

The DMV responded that it is currently ninth on the review list.

The Second Amendment plate should be a popular addition in rural Nevada, assuming its design passes muster. After all, guns have been used to kill far more people that were killed by the atom bomb.

To see the full list of Nevada specialty plates, click on the link attached to this article.

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