Category Archives: Nevada legislature

Protecting Nevada Victims of Domestic Violence and Stalking: We Could Be Doing A Better Job

By almost any common sense standard Ronald E. Haskell should not have had a firearm. By almost any ethical standard he should not have had access to a firearm considering his past behavior towards his ex-wife, and by any moral standard he should not have taken his gun and assassinated six people in Spring, TX, and attempted to murder a seventh. There are three pieces of legislation in Congress which might have prevented this tragedy — and all three are opposed by the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers who support it.  [MJ]

It doesn’t do to sit out here in the Nevada sage brush and lament the problems far away in Texas without considering our own situation in regard to domestic violence and gun ownership.

In 2011, 35% of female homicide victims were killed during a domestic violence incident, and firearms accounted for the deaths of 214 women between 2001 and 2010. [CAP pdf] Let’s approach this rationally.

First, do we have a problem with domestic violence in the State?  Figures from the Nevada Department of Public Safety may indicate that we do. The latest general report available online (pdf) shows the number of domestic violence incidents — of all types — increasing during the period from 2000 to 2005.  There were 20,653 DVIs in 2000, followed by 26,417 in 2001. There were 26,691 in 2002 and another 27,915 in 2003.  2004 totals were 29,233 and in 2005 there were 31,247.  Evidently, things didn’t get much better by 2009.

When the Violence Policy Center rated states according to females murdered by males in single victim homicides by rate, Nevada came up #1, with a 2.70, beating out Alabama with a 2.64 rate and Louisiana with a rate of 1.99. [VPC pdf]  The Nevada Legislature took some serious steps to correct the dismal statistics in the early 2000’s in 2007, [DB] and we have seen some improvement.

Happily, by 2011 the Nevada ranking had dropped to 16th with a rating of 1.48. [VPC pdf] The bad news is that this ranking is still in the “Top 20″ nationally. We obviously have room for improvement to reach Illinois at 0.27, Massachusetts at 0.53, and Vermont at 0.36. [VPC pdf]  We do know that during the period 2003 and 2012 there were 221 domestic violence homicides in Nevada and 52.9% of the fatalities were caused by guns. [CAP pdf]  There are some steps we could take to improve our numbers.

What can be done to improve the situation?  As noted many times in this venue, Nevada should have universal background checks to determine if any of the categories of persons who are proscribed from firearm ownership are attempting to purchase weaponry.   The sorry history of S. 221 was most recently discussed here in an article about the Background Check Initiative.  In short, without at least a cursory background check there is little way to determine if the buyer is subject to the restrictions on firearm possession set forth in NRS 33.031 and NRS 33.033.

The permissive language in NRS 33.031 is also a potential loophole through which a miscreant could retain or acquire firearms.  The statute says, “a court MAY include” within an NRS 33.030 extended restraining order the provision that the “adverse party” will surrender firearms, and cannot possess them while the order is in effect.  In order to attach this proviso, the court must decide that the “adverse party” has a (1) documented history of domestic violence, (2) Has used or threatened to use a firearm to injure or harass the applicant, a minor child or any other person, or (3) Has used a firearm in the commission or attempted commission of any crime.  First, it doesn’t appear that this provision can be applied during a temporary restraining order — the first one issued after the violent incident.  Secondly, the firearm surrender requirement is spoken of only in terms of the extended order of protection.  Granted this gives the “adverse party” some representational rights, since the temporary order might not include the presence of our “adverse party,” in court.  However, it also presents some practical issues.

A Nevada Court has one “judicial” day to consider a temporary restraining order of protection, but it has 45 days in the instance of an application for an extended order. [NRS 33.020]  Thus we have a potential circumstance in which a person with a documented history of domestic violence, one who has used or threatened to shoot the applicant, the children, or others, or has already used a firearm in the commission of a crime — has more than a month of “free” firearm possession in this State. That’s certainly sufficient time for the “adverse party” to locate and endanger the remainder of the family.

One possible solution to the problem might be to eliminate the permissive “may”  from the provisions regarding an extended order of protection and simply say that if the “adverse party” meets the three criteria then law enforcement “will” take custody of the individual’s firearms.  Additionally, if the court finds that there is ample evidence of previous incidents of domestic violence, or clear and present danger from immediate threats, then it “may” remove the firearms during the period covered by the temporary restraining order.

There is no intent in this suggestion to permanently deprive any individual of his 2nd Amendment entertainment devices, merely to secure them while a domestic situation remains volatile.  Nor is this a “blank check” for government to “take guns away” without Constitutional protections — the permissive language (may) pertaining to the temporary restraining order gives the court some latitude to determine the extent of the volatility, and to protect the victim, and, to no small extent, protect our “adverse party” from doing something in the heat of the moment he might regret for the rest of his life.

There is also some elasticity in Nevada laws which place some women and children at risk.  NRS 200.575 discusses stalking, which is a misdemeanor for the first offense, and a gross misdemeanor for the second.  Nevada adds a category of “aggravated stalking:”

“A person who commits the crime of stalking and in conjunction therewith threatens the person with the intent to cause the person to be placed in reasonable fear of death or substantial bodily harm commits the crime of aggravated stalking. A person who commits the crime of aggravated stalking shall be punished for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 15 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.”

It is only when the stalker adds threats of death and substantial bodily harm that he would be committing a felony, and thus ineligible to possess firearms under Nevada law.  This sounds reasonable until we run into the problematic nature of stalker mentalities.  After a conviction for a first and second offense the individual may still acquire firearms, if the victim can’t prove a fear of “death or substantial bodily harm,” beyond a reasonable doubt.  The background check would not exclude the individual unless he’s already convicted of felonious, or “aggravated” stalking since stalking convictions are misdemeanors for the first two offenses.

Another suggestion:  Make the imposition of an order of protection mandatory in all cases of stalking. In the instance of a first conviction the court “may” include the surrender of firearms in the order, and “shall” include it in the case of a second conviction; especially if the stalking is done to the same victim as in the first case.   Current law (NRS 200.591) permits a court to issue a temporary or extended order of protection but doesn’t require it.  Might women and families be safer if the temporary order were applied for the first offense, with the provision that the court “may” include the surrender of deadly weapons?  They would certainly seem to be safer if an extended order was immediately applied after the second conviction, and proscribed the possession of firearms for the duration of the order.

The slippage in the system comes, of course, when there is no background check required for all gun sales, such that after the misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor convictions the stalker can simply purchase a firearm at a gun show and move on to the felony he may have been contemplating.

Spare me the “law abiding citizens” argument from the 2nd Amendment extremists.  A person who commits domestic violence has broken the law. A person who stalks another person in the state of Nevada has broken the law.  This is not law-abiding behavior.  When a person’s behavior is classified as a misdemeanor, a gross misdemeanor, or a class B felony — it is not law-abiding. Period.

Spare me the “Big Plot To Take Guns” argument. No one is speaking of temporary or extended orders of protection which deprive the non-law-abiding of their 2nd Amendment playthings in perpetuity. When the stalker hits the B Felony grade he’s done it to himself; if he’s still in the misdemeanor range the surrender of firearms lasts only as long as the orders of protection.

And, finally, spare us the misery of a rendition of the Spring, TX massacre in the Silver State.


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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, women, Women's Issues

Nevada: Vote Like Your Right To Vote Depends On It

Ballot BoxThere’s one Nevada political race which hasn’t attracted as much limelight as might be justified.  That would be the race for Secretary of State.  The Secretary of State’s office has authority over elections and voting, and the implementation of Nevada election laws and regulations.  The Nevada Republican Party has already put citizens on notice that it intends to flog the Election Integrity Mule all the way to the polls.

Here’s their 2014 election platform statement:

“We advocate proof of U.S. citizenship and residency at the time of voter registration and requiring government issued photo ID at the time of voting.  We oppose same day voter registration to preserve election integrity.  We strongly support all electronic voting systems having a voter verified paper audit trail, used in the event of a recount.”

Look closely at the first sentence.  Yes, everyone supports the idea that a person is a U.S. citizen, and is a resident for the purposes of voting.  And, yes if a person does the registration paperwork to vote in Nevada a government issued ID or driver’s license is required. [NVSoS] If a person doesn’t have a government issued ID or driver’s license then the individual must register in person at the county election office, clerk or registrar. [NVSoS]

Once the paperwork is filed and the voter is included among those eligible to vote in Nevada, when a person goes to the polls the burden of proof to refuse that individual a ballot is on the government — not the individual.  It is up to the government to demonstrate you are not eligible to vote — it is not up to you to prove that you are.

So, here the second part of that sentence comes into play.  Under the Nevada Republican scheme of things, not only does a person have to prove citizenship and residency during the registration process, BUT the person must also prove he or she is eligible to vote at the polling place.  In other, unminced words, the burden of proof is now shifted from “you are eligible to vote unless the government can prove you aren’t” to “you are not eligible to vote until you prove you are.”

Since voting irregularities are illegal, what the Nevada Republican Party is advocating is a system in which you are NOT presumed  innocent until you are proven guilty, you are presumed guilty until you can prove you aren’t.  [Extended discussion here]

The second sentence doesn’t make much sense. If you have proof of citizenship and residency a few days before an election, wouldn’t you have it on election day?  Should there be issues regarding either element there’s always recourse to the provisional ballot.  The only thing that same day registration actually does is make voting easier and more convenient.

And all this in the interest of providing ‘election integrity.’  Nor is this a recent idea.  ALEC and its allies have been shoving the concept of increased corporate influence and decreased citizen participation for some time — and they do have Nevada allies. [DB]

There was an effort during the 2011 legislative season to enact a voter photo ID law. [DB] Legislators Roberson, Hardy, Hansen, Woodbury, Stewart, and Hambrick were the Suppression Six.  Among the bills they sponsored or supported were AB 327, AB 341, AB 425, AB 434, and SB 374.

State Senator Barbara Cegavske added her own bill to the mix, AB 311 jointly sponsored by Hardy, Sherwood, Hansen, Munford, Gustavson, and Halseth.  The bill would have eliminated all early voting in Nevada elections.

Another bit of red, white, and blue fearmongering was addressed in 2011 by SB 178, sponsored by Gustavson, Hardy, McGinness, Roberson, Settelmeyer, Hansen, Ellison, Goedhart, Goicoechea, Hambrick, Kirner, and McArthur.  The bill was a rather blatant bit of immigrant bashing, with whispers of “illegals” voting in the toxic mixture.

During the 2013 session of the state legislature there were another spate of bills regarding photo ID statutes and other means of making voting less convenient and more restrictive.  There was SB 63 (photo ID), SB 367 (repetition of immigrant bashing  SB 178/2011) , AB 216 (Photo ID) sponsored by Sen. Gustavson, Hansen, Wheeler, Ellison, Hambrick, Fiore, P. Anderson, Grady, Livermore, and Stewart.  AB 319 (Photo ID) sponsored by Stewart, Hambrick, Hansen, Duncan, Grady, Hardy, Hickey, Kirner, and Livermore.

And what of making voting more convenient?  During the 2013 legislative session, AB 440 was passed which would have extended the period for voter registration. The bill passed the Assembly on a 25-16 vote. [NVLeg] It passed the Nevada Senate on a 11-10 vote.  The Nay votes came from Brower, Cegavske, Pete Goicoechea, Gustavson, Hammond, Hardy, Hutchison, Ben Kieckhefer, Roberson, and Settelmeyer. [NVLeg]  The bill was vetoed by Governor Sandoval.

There appear to be two outcomes the Nevada Republican Party would very much like to see in the upcoming 2014 elections.  The first would be to control the State Senate, and the second might very well be to elect State Senator Barbara Cegavske as the new Secretary of State.

Democrats in Nevada would be well advised to vote in 2014 as if their right to vote depended on it — given the platform, the previous legislative efforts, and the voting records of Nevada Republicans in the Legislature, Senator Barbara Cegavske in particular — it might.

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Filed under Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

We’re the worst? Nevada is the Least Safe State

We could be doing a little better than this:

“Among the things that led to Nevada’s dismal overall status were a 47th ranking for “murder and non-negligent manslaughter per capita,” 47th for “public hospital rankings,” 43rd for “percentage of population without health insurance coverage,” 31st for “employer health insurance coverage rates” and 47th for “assault per capita.”

Piled on these were poor financial rankings for Nevada: 49th for “annual consumer savings account averages” and 50th for “percentage of people who spend more than they make.”  [Full story RGJ]

So, in terms of overall financial safety, Nevada ranks 50th — only Mississippi ranks lower; and in the home and community safety column we’re ranked 49th, with only Tennessee ranked below us.  [WalletHub]

We didn’t make the infamous top ten rankings in “aggregate state rankings in gun violence outcomes,” but we are sitting at number 12. [CAP pdf] We were 9th in national rankings of firearm deaths (2010), and if we extend the time period to 2001-2010 Nevada climbs into 5th place. [CAP pdf]

In short, having relatively lax gun safety statutes and regulations, and being in proximity to other states with lax statutes and regulations isn’t going to produce happy outcomes in regard to overall firearm deaths by accident, suicide, negligence, or homicide.

Our recent example of gun violence in Las Vegas should be perceived as yet another reminder that radicalized gun enthusiasts with access to copious amounts of firearms and ammunition isn’t a recipe for reducing our crime rate and raising the level of public safety.

If we would reduce the level of gun violence, there are some things that work.  No, they aren’t going to stop ALL or each instance of it, but they do help bring down the unfortunate statistics.

#1. Enact universal background checks for all gun sales.  At the risk of redundancy, Nevada proscribes arms sales to felons, fugitives, juveniles without adult supervision, undocumented aliens, and the seriously mentally ill. Arms may also be proscribed for those who have been involved in domestic violence incidents.  It would help our law enforcement officials if we were more careful to insure that people in these classifications do not acquire their own arsenals.

#2. Limit the ammunition capacity.  Seriously, if a person hasn’t shot the home intruder with ten rounds, what makes anyone think the next 20 would do more than merely shoot up the house? In at least two highly publicized instances the shooter has been apprehended while trying to reload.

There’s another element which deserves some consideration — Nevada ranks in the upper half of national suicide statistics, with a 20.3 rate. And, we know that of the four categorized methods, firearms are used most often (50.5%). [AFSP] [CDC] To see firearms as strictly related to “crime” statistics is to miss a significant portion of the public health and safety issues associated with the profusion of firearms.

The risk factors for suicides are well documented: family history, child abuse, previous attempts, personal history of mental disorders or clinical depression, history of alcohol or substance abuse.. [CDC] However, while we’ve put a great deal of effort into studying suicide, rather less has been done to research protective measures. This is not to say we don’t have a grasp of what works to prevent suicides. Easy access to clinical care for physical, mental, and substance abuse disorders mitigates the problem, as does having a variety of clinical interventions and the provision of support for those seeking help.

Individuals with family/community support, access to medical care relationships, and those who have been provided with assistance or training in problem solving, conflict resolution, and non-violent means of dealing with disputes, also are less likely to commit suicide.

If we’re serious about reducing this element of insecurity in Nevada there are measures we could take ‘for starters’.

#1. Enhance and improve the capacity of Nevada’s Drug Courts.  We currently have 17 adult drug courts in the state [NVJud] among the specialty courts available.  Each and every specialty court should be able to function secure in the knowledge that the rehabilitation services it mandates are readily available for those those come through the system.

#2. Improve the level of staffing and support services in our mental health system.  Unfortunately, information regarding current levels of support and regional availability of services is difficult to access because the State Division of Public and Behavioral Health is still trying to get its website up and running — a project which it estimates will take three to six months. (The old links aren’t working today.)

Adopting any, or as could be hoped, of all four suggestions will take some political leadership, and a bit of readjustment in how we perceive and deal with our fellow citizens.

First, it would be helpful if we could expand the discussion of firearm safety beyond the tortured logic of “freedom” or other generic complaints about governance and see the proliferation of firearms as a public health issue. Secondly, once we can visualize aspects of firearm safety as an element of public health then we can begin to address subordinate issues such as keeping firearms out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves and others, and of restraining the amount of damage a troubled person might be able to do.

Further, if we can reform and improve our delivery of social and mental health services we might see the reduction in the kinds of behaviors which augment our unfortunate statistics.  Social and mental health services are labor intensive, and there are no convenient technological answers to issues involving human beings and their behavior.  Money doesn’t solve mental health problems, but it does build and staff those facilities which can alleviate the suffering which accompanies disorders and substance abuse problems.

In short, we will get what we are willing to pay for.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada economy, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics

Tales of Two Gun Carriers

** We had to know, sooner or later, someone was going to test the Stand Your Ground law in Nevada. Unfortunately, it’s sooner. [Nevada Progressive] 73 year old Wayne Burgarello shot and killed two people who were in his vacant Sparks duplex.  Now Burgarello’s hearing has been delayed until June 12th in a Sparks JP Court. [RGJ]  Were the victims trespassing? It seems very likely.  Did Burgarello have other options than shooting the trespassers?  NRS 207.200 specifies what happens in the case the owner of the property gives an oral or written demand that the trespasser leave — the law kicks in — and further notes that the trespass is a misdemeanor.  Did Burgarello have options other than the use of deadly force?  We will hear his version of the story, however if Stand Your Ground equates to Silence the Witnesses then we won’t hear the voices of the two shooting victims.  Burgarello would have been totally within his rights to (a) issue a trespassing warning, and then (b) seek the assistance of the authorities to remove the trespassers.

Without knowing much more than that a neighbor told Burgarello that the victims were squatting in the vacant property, and that Burgarello showed up with three weapons, the impression is left that we may have yet another Angry Old Man shooting — a la Curtis Reeves.   Just as getting popcorn tossed at you in a movie theater doesn’t seem an appropriate time for lethal force, shooting a drug addled squatter when other remedies were at hand doesn’t quite square with ‘defense of property’ either.

** Now that General Eric Shinseki has been tossed to the media wolves for his inability to get the VA to clear up the wait-time morass, it’s high time to clean up the mess — for real — and that the Reno, NV VA facility has the 10th longest wait time isn’t good news. [RGJ]  Little wonder there’s been a waiting list:

“The 18,000 veterans who enrolled between October and March added to the 38,000 to 40,000 veterans the hospital already served, Farr said. The VA hospital in Reno serves Northern Nevada and as far south as Tonopah, Nev., plus nine California counties that border the Silver State.”  [RGJ

A person might have thought that the Congress would do something to alleviate the numbers problem — for example, authorizing the establishment of 27 new VA facilities — but after initial optimism last February the Senate Republicans threw up enough road blocks to stop the legislation from advancing.  Republicans wanted to attach a provision to enhance sanctions on Iran, and worried about “budget” considerations. [Reuters]  The result was that the filibuster continued on S. 1982 on a 56-41 vote. [Roll call 46]

Members of the Senate who voted to sustain the filibuster of S. 1982 were:

Alexander (R-TN) Ayotte (R-NH) Barrasso (R-WY) Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR) Burr (R-NC) Chambliss (R-GA) Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK) Cochran (R-MS) Collins (R-ME) Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX) Crapo (R-ID) Cruz (R-TX) Enzi (R-WY) Fischer (R-NE) Flake (R-AZ) Graham (R-SC) Grassley (R-IA) Hatch (R-UT)
Hoeven (R-ND) Inhofe (R-OK) Isakson (R-GA) Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI) Kirk (R-IL) Lee (R-UT) McCain (R-AZ) McConnell (R-KY) Paul (R-KY) Portman (R-OH) Risch (R-ID) Roberts (R-KS) Rubio (R-FL) Scott (R-SC) Sessions (R-AL) Shelby (R-AL) Thune (R-SD) Toomey (R-PA) Vitter (R-LA)

See any D’s after those names?  Other than for the inclination of the broadcast media to interview All The Usual Suspects about their “reactions” to the VA debacle, this should be a list of people who have absolutely NO room to talk about the VA services or lack thereof.

Some people have no problem offering succor to those who take the law into their own hands and play Terminator, while dismissing the needs of veterans as “too expensive” when those legitimate gun carriers are asking for assistance; medical, educational, and in terms of employment.  It’s a strange world indeed.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics

Cegavske: A Solution in Search of a Problem – Vote Suppression Nevada Style

State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-Clark8) would like to be our next Secretary of State, in part because:

“One of my main goals is to ensure the integrity of elections in Nevada. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our state and federal constitution in which we all believe. I strongly support and encourage the active participation of all the citizens of Nevada to exercise their right to vote. Nevada voters deserve assurance that the manner in which their elections are conducted and in which the votes are counted, is above reproach. I will endeavor to provide that assurance.” (emphasis added)

Notice the Buzz Words.  “Integrity of elections,” and “Voters deserve assurance.”  Both of the phrases are connected to the Republican vote suppression rhetoric.  In fact, there is an Election Integrity project, operating out of Santa Clarita, CA.  Some background may be in order at this point.

Follow The Money

Catherine Englebrecht is the founder of the King Street Patriots and and True the Vote — a product of the maelstrom of right wing politics which is the state of Texas.  Convinced that Hispanic and African American voters, abetted by the ‘nefarious’ ACORN were fraudulently participating in elections, the self-styled Patriots and Truthers, launched various and sundry schemes to minimize the votes from African American, Hispanic, and young people.  Elections, the self-styled Patriots said, should be free from any contamination and from charges of fraud and sloppy practices — translation — too many “other kinds of people” voting.

Adding one more link to the chain, the attorney representing True the Vote, is none other than Kelly Shackelford, of the free market think tank Liberty Institute. A few more clicks and we find Shackelford listed as the president of the Free Market Foundation, which in turn links to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.  And, wonder of wonders … check deeply enough and there’s a Koch Brothers connection: “The Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation both support the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.[3]$113,800 received from Koch foundations 2005–2008 Total Koch foundation grants 1997–2008: $122,300 [4] [SW]

There’s another link to right wing organizations which have proposed vote suppression measures:  The State Policy Network is funded by all the usual suspects, major corporate interests like Reynolds American, Altria (tobacco), Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Foods, Comcast, Time Warner, and … the Koch Brothers. [SPN funding]  The link is formed when we find out that True The Vote received funding from the State Policy Network during the 2012 election season. [ConsTrans]  We’d be remiss if it weren’t noted that the State Policy Network also bestowed its largess on the Nevada Policy Research Institute. {above, p.2}

From whence comes the funding for the State Policy Network?  A significant portions comes from the Pope Foundation and other conservative funding fonts, along with a very healthy infusion of money from the Donors Capital Trust.  Read: Koch Brothers.

And yet still another — to Judicial Watch.  This organization has made no secret of its desire to restrict the opportunities of ‘undesirables’ to vote, as indicated by some of its activities in Florida and other states.

“Judicial Watch is crusading to force states to carry out voter-roll purges like the one that has subjected Florida to multiple lawsuits. Together with Judicial Watch, True the Vote formed the 2012 Election Integrity Project, launched in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Through the Election Integrity Project, the group has sued to allow Florida’s purge program to commence, and has sent letters threatening lawsuits in Indiana and Ohio to do the same.” [HuffPo]

In the No Surprise Department we find Judicial Watch teaming up with the Election Integrity Project to “watch” the 2012 elections.  In case anyone was thinking some 700 people in Nevada’s Clean Up The Vote campaign came to all their notions from burning sage brush — the Clean Up The Vote is an affiliate of True The Vote. [NPR]

Follow the Record

It’s all well and proper to note the funding chain linking the Koch Brothers and their ultra-right wing allies with organizations seeking to propose and enact vote suppression activities, and another to claim that a particular candidate is aligned with their intentions. What’s the record?

During the 2013 Legislative session, Senator Cegavske was one of the primary sponsors of SB 239 in the fine print of which was the coordination of Social Security Administration and voter registration lists to “insure” dead people weren’t voting. Further, the bill would have allowed county clerks and election officials to send out sample ballots electronically.   First, we’d have to believe that there are “dead people” voting.  During testimony on the measure, Senator Settelmeyer (R-CUSA) defended the bill citing that his recently decease mother was still on the mailing lists of several candidates and campaigns. [Legis PDF]

Senator Cegavske also cited a family matter, noting that her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease was in a Minnesota nursing facility and the family had requested that mailings not be sent to her home address.  Representatives from the Secretary of State’s office noted that we should be cautious about removing anyone from voter rolls simply for being old, and that statutes do provide a process by which suffrage could be refused. [Legis PDF] At no point during the testimony on April 9, 2013 did any of the proponents of the bill describe any actual instances of fraudulent voting by or on behalf of dead people, demented people, or any other imposters.  There was no such testimony on May 8, 2013. [LegisPDF]   Nor was there any such testimony on May 20, 2013. [Legis PDF]

The Assembly side took up the bill on May 29, 2013.  Once more Sen. Settelmeyer spoke of his mother, but again, there was no testimony that any such actual voting impropriety had ever taken place. [Legis PDF] Nor was any such testimony forthcoming at the final hearing on June 3, 2013. [Legis PDF]

In 2009 Senator Cegavske was also concerned about fraudulent voting, as a primary sponsor of SB 315.  The bill received two hearings in the Nevada State Senate.  During the first of which the  point that photo identification was a “solution in search of a problem”  as opposed to the proponents laudatory contributions about the Indiana Voter Photo ID bill. [Legis PDF] During the last hearing Senator Lee asked the obvious: Do we need SB 315?  Senator Washington offered the Suppressionist Party Line in response:

“The voting process is sacred. We never want to give the impression of fraudulent voting. We need something in place to determine if there is voter fraud. Poll workers are there to stop any fraudulent voting. This would add one more safeguard to maintain integrity in the voting process.” [Leg PDF]

SB 315 died in committee. Note, once again, only the potential — after explanations aplenty from county and state officials that there was no evidence of voter impersonation — of fraud was ever alleged. At no point in testimony in either 2009 or 2013 was evidence of actual fraud brought forth.

We can go back yet another session, to 2007, in which Senator Cegavske sponsored SB 385, to require that county clerks issue voter ID cards.  The theme remained the same, there was a potential problem with impersonation — during the testimony given on the bill no one offered a single instance of actual voter fraud to the committee on March 27, 2007. [Leg PDF]  The bill got a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate committee, on March 29, 2007, but no examples of actual voter fraud emerged. [Leg PDF]

SB 385 came up for discussion again on May 3, 2007, with Barry Gold of the AARP testifying that approximately 125,000 elderly Nevadans would be negatively impacted by the bill. The hearing closed. [LegPDF]  A second hearing provided more examples of voter inconvenience and expense than it did of any real problems, especially since none of the latter were mentioned.  [LegPDF]  The bill never emerged from the State Senate.

And so, since 2007 Senator Cegavske has been looking for the solution to Senator Washington’s “problem,” i.e. how should legislation be crafted so that no Republican can ever claim any indication of potential voter fraud?   This is particularly difficult since the underpinning of the voter fraud allegations is the notion that Democrats can only win elections by cheating, and therefore, if a Democrat wins it must be by nefarious means.

We might await the day when more than six members of the Republican Party are willing to admit that various forms of suppression including purging rolls and photo identification requirements are simply about disenfranchising those who are likely to vote Democratic.  [National Memo]

It would be seemly if Senator Cegavske, while campaigning to assume the mantle of elections chief in this state would care to take some time to explain why she sought “solutions” to election problems which never actually took place, and existed only in the heated imaginations of right wing, Koch Brothers funded, political operatives and their think tanks.


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Filed under Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

Backpedaling In the Brush: Heller, Bundy, and the Radical Right

BundyOh my, there is something to be said for not jumping on the Fox Faux News bandwagon in seemingly opportune moments — and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) may be feeling a bit of that now?  [NVP]

Only days ago Senator Heller was calling Cliven Bundy and his Brigands “patriots.” [Roll Call]  Senator Reid’s commentary on this latest manifestation of the radical right (domestic terrorists) was “too broad a brush” for Senator Heller who was concerned about federal lands in Nevada and the proportionality of BLM operations.

And then Mr. Bundy started talking…..

He talked about people (read African Americans) in North Las Vegas. He talked about people sitting on porches with nothing to do. He talked about people getting government subsidies instead of picking cotton.  He talked about how “maybe they were better off” in those good old days…. [NYTUpdate: The Rachel Maddow Show provided context for Mr. Bundy’s remarks which explains the radical racism forthcoming from the “sovereign citizen” rancher.  (video)

Senator Heller moved quickly from characterizing Mr. Bundy and his cohorts as “Boy Scouts and Grandmothers,” to back pedaling as fast as he could: ” Chandler Smith, a spokesman for Mr. Heller, said that the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.” [NYT]

The Nevada Democratic Party reacted swiftly, and noted that Senator Heller wasn’t the only Nevada Republican to associate him or herself with the Bundy Cause Celebre:

“These comments are reprehensible, and every Republican politician in the state of Nevada who tried to latch on to Cliven Bundy’s newfound celebrity with TEA Partiers and the militia movement should be ashamed of their actions.  If Dean Heller, Cresent Hardy, Niger Innis, Michelle Fiore, Adam Laxalt and every other Republican politician who tried to attach themselves to this man seemed desperate a week ago, now they look downright pathetic.  Every Republican elected official who risked inciting violence to gain political capital out of Cliven Bundy now owes the people of Nevada an apology for their irresponsible behavior of putting their own political future ahead of the safety of Nevadans.”

There were others.  There was Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (R-Douglas), and Senator Don Gustavson (R-NV14, Humboldt, Lander, Mineral, Pershing, Nye [part], and Washoe [part]) and Assemblyman John Ellison (R-NV33, Elko, Eureka, White Pine, Eureka) and Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-NV32, Humboldt, Pershing, Lander, Mineral, Esmeralda, Washoe [part]) joining in the call for “a probe of the armed incursion” by the Bureau of Land Management, along with Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R-NV4) [Ralston]

Why would anyone be particularly shocked that Cliven Bundy would receive accolades and support from any of these self identified and self described conservative Republicans?

Assemblyman Wheeler earned some notoriety last October when he told a Story County GOP crowd he’d ‘hold his nose and vote for slavery if that’s what his constituents wanted.’ [LVSun]  Which is probably why we generally don’t want the majority voting on minority rights.

Senator Gustavson happily signed onto the “10-4″ pledge as a member of the 10th’ers. “I have always been a strong supporter of the 10th Amendment and the Constitution itself including all of the “Bill of Rights”. I was a co-sponsor to AJR 15, (Claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) during the 2009 Session of the Nevada Legislature. It is time for Americans and the States to take back their constitutional rights!

Assemblyman Ellison is the Hero of the Battle of Bunkerville, to some, — “If the(re) was a hero in the Bundy Ranch standoff it was Nevada Assemblyman John Ellison who when most other Nevada political leaders were heading as far away from the range war as possible, Ellison charged in and just may have prevented the standoff from exploding.” [CTV]  Assemblyman Ellison might have wanted to join the more cautious members of his party and distance himself from the racists and militia radicals who constituted the ‘protesters’ in Bunkerville — before Mr. Bundy started talking?

Assemblyman Hansen has something in common with Mr. Bundy, both have refused to pay fines for illegal operations.  Assemblyman Hansen has an ongoing feud with the Nevada Department of Wildlife who fined him for placing snare traps too close to a highway. They fined him, he refused to pay. [RGJ]  Sound familiar?

Assemblywoman Fiore seemed happy to bask in right wing praise for her TV time discussing the situation with Cliven Bundy, [CL] She’s also happy to tell us she’s a lifetime member of the NRA, who is pleased to support open carry on school campuses. [TNV] [HJ] Perhaps the question should be not why she’s backing the likes of Cliven Bundy, but why it took her so long?

And, no, the Nevada Democratic Party probably won’t be getting any apologies from these people or explanations as to why they chose to support a radical, racist, law breaker any time soon.

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No, “it’s” not about religious freedom.  Religious freedom means there will no  established national religion in the United States of America, or in Nevada, or in wherever USA.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” [Amendment I]  There will be no national church, nor shall anyone be prohibited from his or her own free exercise of his or her religion.  That doesn’t mean that he or she may impose his or her religion upon others in the public sphere.   Some people appear to be operating on the delusion that their private sanctuary extends to the horizons.

If a person’s religion requires keeping one’s head covered before God but mine doesn’t, then who am I to require that they remove the yarmulke in my place of business? Asking a man to remove his keffiyeh or tagiyah makes no more sense.  That these gentlemen are wearing a yarmulke, a keffiyeh, or a tagiyah, or a turban,  in no way impinges on my belief that the head covering is unnecessary.

I should no more require a woman to remove her hijab…her sheila…or her doa guan before being served than I should tell a nun to remove her habit.   If seeing a person in a yarmulke or a hijab makes me uncomfortable, makes me feel like “others” are invading my personal “religious” space, then I should reflect very carefully on where their space ends and mine begins.

What I am not free to do in my place of business in the public sphere is to hang up a sign reading “Keffiyeh, yarmulke, turban, hijab, mitpachat (aka tichels), doa guan? No Service.”   I am free to exercise my religious beliefs — by not wearing a head cover; however, I am not free to require others remove theirs in my presence.   Nor can I “exercise” my religion in the public sphere by discriminating against others of different faiths.

If I were to believe that life begins at conception then I would not approve of an abortion for myself or the members of my family over which I have direct control. However, if my neighbor believes that life doesn’t begin until the infant takes its first independent breath, I have no right to impose my religious tenets upon my neighbor.  That family is just as free to function in terms of its own religious freedom of conscience as I am to function within the framework of mine.

One of the more interesting features of the contemporary “religious freedom” argument is how members of the predominant faith in this nation have somehow come to believe that they are a set-upon minority battling the forces of secularism and plurality.  They are beset by attacks — on Christmas? on Life? on Easter?  At least if they watch enough cable television from a certain unmentionable network clamoring for ratings they might appear to be.  In the pride they take in being the Cincinnatus At The Gates of Modern Morality, they seem to have forgotten (1) they aren’t really under attack, and (2) that the state, the public domain, is not constituted for their comfort. For more thoughts on this subject see the post here.

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SB 192 Nevada Dodged A Bullet

Rainbow Flag 2In the last session of the Assembled Wisdom several members of the Nevada Republican Party introduced SB 192 which “Enacts the Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act to prohibit governmental entities from substantially burdening the exercise of religion. (BDR 3-477).”   Those twho originally sponsored this bill included: Cegavske, Hutchison, Hammond, Hardy, Denis, Ford, Goicoechea, Gustavson, Jones, Kieckhefer, Kihuen, Parks, Roberson, Segerblom, Settelmeyer, Smith, Woodhouse, Fiore, Duncan, Hardy, Grady, Hambrick, Hickey, Kirkpatrick, Kirner, Oscarson, Stewart, and Woodbury.

The bill got a vote in the State Senate and passed 14-7 with Atkinson, Ford, Manendo, Parks, Smith, Woodhouse, and Spearman voting in opposition.  The testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 13, 2013 was instructive — especially so in view of the comments made by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as she vetoed the Arizona version.

Members of the committee asked those testifying in favor of the bill to provide an example of a person in the state of Nevada who had had their religious liberties violated by the current framework of non-discrimination statutes.  As close as the members got to an answer came from a representative from the American Religious Freedom Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

“You have asked about specific incidents in Nevada to which this bill is a response. I am not aware of any violations of the kind detailed in Exhibit E that have occurred in Nevada. We may not know when rights violations like this occur because those who consult attorneys might be told they have no legal recourse. ”  [Schultz pdf]

In short, NO. There hadn’t been any actual problems, but ‘gee whiz maybe there might be someone out there who got told by a lawyer that discriminating against people probably wouldn’t fly‘ or sometime in the future somewhere on the horizon, or something….  Not to put too fine a point to it but the EPPC was one of the initial think tanks established for the Culture Warriors, and one especially associated with highlighting what its sponsors saw as a plague of secular humanism (whatever that might be).  They are pleased to continue following this path.

Not surprisingly, between the mid 1980s and 2001 the group was funded by all the usual suspects — the Castle Rock Foundation, the Scaifes, the Koch Brothers, the Olin Foundation, and the Bradley Foundation.  [SW]  [NVProg] The anti-gay refrain commonly associated with conservative think tanks of the sort supported by the bed rock foundations emerged during the hearing when, unable to provide any concrete examples of anti-religious discrimination in the state a spokesperson for the Church State Council described the proposed legislation as “pro-active” — to prevent alleged instances of religious ‘discrimination’ prior to their occurrence.  [Reinach, pdf]

One organization could provide examples of how the proposed statute could be a problem for Nevadans, it just wasn’t on the proponent’s side of the argument.   Elisa Cafferata, speaking on behalf of the Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, observed:

“I am not an attorney, and I have learned not to argue about what the law means, especially with a Committee made almost entirely of attorneys. I would just point out that the proponents of this bill could not point out any specific examples of violations in Nevada law that this bill would correct. Unfortunately, I read every day of situations in which people assert their religious rights to deny women access to health care. There are dozens of cases around the Country. We know of cases in Nevada where pharmacists have refused to provide women with birth control. We can give you hundreds of examples.”

Jane Heenan, of Gender Justice Nevada, was even more specific:

“There was an incident at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in 2010 in which a transgender person went to change the driver’s license gender marker. The person brought a letter from a doctor, which was a requirement at that time. The DMV staff member decided it was not appropriate for the person to change the gender marker and asked questions such as, “What does God think about your behavior?” and ultimately refused to perform the service. That is one example of many I could provide.”  [Heenan pdf]

Any questions?  Those holding anti-contraception and anti-gay beliefs would find some solace under the provisions of SB 192 if they foisted those tenets of faith on others.   A compromise amendment [R pdf] to SB 192 came before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 12, 2013, and assured that “non-discrimination” wouldn’t become “discrimination” the committee added its “do pass” recommendation. [NVLeg pdf]

State Senators Cegavske and Hutchinson testified (pdf) in the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s May 17th (2013) hearing on SB 192, noting: “The key provision of S.B. 192 (R1) is found in section 8 of the bill. Specifically, section 8 prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless the governmental entity demonstrates that burden furthers a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that governmental interest.”

Interesting.  Note that there would have been two tests here. First, the government can’t “substantially burden” a person from (not filling a contraceptive prescription or not letting a person change the gender marker on a driver’s license) and further the burden must be commensurate with a “compelling” governmental interest — whatever that might be — and further the “burden” must be the “least restrictive means.”

No one contended at any point that religious freedom wasn’t a wonderful thing, however the implications, and actual target of the legislation was summarized quickly by the representative for the Nevada ACLU (pdf): “We are talking about language that says a religious motivation gets the greatest deference that the courts and the government could give, even though it may affect someone else whose rights do not get that same kind of deference.”

The bill went no further.  Nevada avoided the sort of publicity recently accorded the Arizona legislature over S1062.   However, before we sit back and relax enjoying the pleasant delusion that the Culture Warriors have been shamed into silence — this legislation will not be the end of the matter.

Women’s Health

There are those who devoutly hold that women are vessels, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7″ — A bit of proof-texting is all that is necessary to bundle up a bit of Scripture to prove a woman’s subjugation to male authority, none of which goes very far towards explaining Paul’s admonition in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Texts notwithstanding, the underlying attitudes towards women’s health and the use of prescription contraceptives, aren’t so much scriptural as cultural.  As long as masculinity as defined in some unfortunate quarters by fertility women are at risk of being forced to carry to term pregnancies which can be both physically and emotionally damaging.

Gender Discrimination

I am truly sorry for those whose personal bubble is a protective device shielding them from that which they find uncomfortable in others.   Only about 3.8% of the U.S. population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. [Abt]  If two men holding hands in the park make a person “uncomfortable,” the real problem is in the eyes of the beholder, not the two fellows having a nice afternoon with a picnic lunch.    If a person is confusing a wedding ceremony with a marriage contract, that’s a matter of personal conflict; one that should not be transformed into the denial of inheritance,  access to social services, or any other legally available rights awarded to married couples.

What the law cannot protect us from is seeing what we don’t want to acknowledge.   The law can no more prevent us from seeing the men at the picnic table any more than it can prevent us from witnessing children being handed school lunches only to have the meal tossed away for non-payment.  The law can’t prevent us from seeing the deterioration of school playground equipment, nor can it prevent us from observing a transgender person in a shopping mall.   Our level of comfort is subject to our own very individual tastes and concerns.   And, our level of comfort is in no small measure a function of the level of our fears.

If a person is made more uncomfortable by the sight of a gay or lesbian couple than by the sight of humiliated children, deteriorating playgrounds, struggling retailers, an alcoholic left ignored and untreated in a doorway, or children left to play indoors on a sunny day because there is the prospect of gun fire in the neighborhood — then perhaps there is room for the reconsideration of our priorities? Not to mention the kind of life our faith is supposed to nurture.

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Nickels and Dimes and PPEs

Nickels DimesThere are numbers, and then there are numbers, some of which are of marginal utility.  For example, there’s the much used and abused “per pupil expenditure.”  Nevada’s isn’t a particularly appealing number:

“Nationally, average per-pupil spending was $10,658 during fiscal year 2011. Expenditures ranged from $6,326 in Utah to $20,793 in Washington, D.C.  Nevada spent an average of $8,411 per student in that time frame, $2,247 less than the national average.”  [LVSun]

Generally speaking, the PPE number gets bandied about as though it’s “too high” when it’s above the national median, or “too low” when it’s below.  The point should be that the local situation will determine the financial needs of school districts, and the local financial needs will drive the allocation of the funding available.

About the worst application of the PPE number is to plant it next to a table of numbers showing testing results for K-12 youngsters and then grandly announcing we’re “spending too much,” or “too little” or often from conservative quarters — “we’re not getting enough from our money.”  Here’s why this argument is counter-productive:

1. PPE numbers may incorporate funding which does not directly affect instruction.  Granting that better instruction, and better learning take place in well lit, comfortable, well furnished surroundings,  a district which has major maintenance and construction needs may have “instructional costs” elevated by the expenses associated with upgrading ventilation, heating, cooling, and furnishing projects.   We could further confuse the issues by incorporating extended ARRA funding included in 2010-11 school district budgets and thereby increase the numerator in our fractional result.  About the best we can estimate is reported in the Nevada Education Data Book (pdf 2013)  that on a statewide basis of the $8321 per pupil expended, $4,944 is categorized as instructional expense, $400 is for “support,” $886 is spent for operations, and $734 is spent for administration.

2. The PPE numbers do not illustrate the demographic elements which inform school district spending.   The Data Book (pdf) shows 437,149 children enrolled in Nevada schools.   327,770 are enrolled in Clark County Schools, another 66,137 in Washoe County Schools, and the remainder 51,830 in the rural counties.   We need to scroll further into the report to discover that Clark County’s enrollment includes about 44% Hispanic students, and 13% African American.  By contrast, Storey County records 10% Hispanic and 1% African American students.

No leap is required to conclude Nevada, and Clark County specifically, has a higher number of “limited English proficient enrollment.” (19%)  And, 50% of Nevada enrollees are eligible for free or reduced price school lunches.  Clearly, not all Hispanic youngsters are burdened with limited proficiency in English, and not all African American or Hispanic youngsters come from families functioning at or near the poverty line.  However, it would be the height of naivety to deny that higher percentages of ethnic minority students means that the allocation of resources necessary for a district with an 85% white population will be the same as one which has a 44% Hispanic population.

In short, the PPE only tells us what has been spent in general terms, and doesn’t tell us a thing about what needs to be spent.

3. Money will not solve educational issues — but it will purchase the resources necessary to meet them.   What we need to decide is what we want the educational system to do.   The answer thereof is “Curriculum, Curriculum, Curriculum.  There appear to be more “stressors” than solutions.

(a) College Prep v. Vocational:  It doesn’t require too many joint meetings between collegiate and secondary instructors to figure out that what the collegiate ranks would dearly love is to have every youngster they enroll competent to pass Calculus 101, U.S. History 101, and English 101-102.  It requires about the same amount of meetings to discover that the secondary instructors are talking about the youngsters who are not among the 120,000 students enrolled in any of the 21 degree granting institutions in the state. [Census pdf]  Let’s use math as a quick example of the stressor: A standard diploma from a Nevada high school requires 3 units of mathematics. What math?  Algebra I, II, and Geometry?  Pre-Algebra, Algebra, General Business Math?   Someone is going to be dissatisfied with any decision.

(b) What constitutes “success?”  Is it getting a “300” on the Reading, Science, and Mathematics exit examination, or a “7” on the writing exam? Don’t get me wrong — I’m all for youngsters being able to identify “tone” in a written piece, and I’m certainly emphatic about young people being taught to recognize propaganda when they read it.  Recognizing dramatic irony is fine, too.  However, what happens if, as an employer, I am primarily interested in hiring a young person who can follow written directions?  Who understand what is required and can fill out an accident report?  Or, who can comprehend what I mean when I say on an application form that the job I am offering requires “particular attention to personal hygiene?”   On the other hand, reading and comprehending a piece of 500 to 1200 words shouldn’t be too much to ask.   The question now evolves into Who is getting What for their tax dollars?

4. The next question is related to both the “success” questions and the demographic issues.  What does the PPE tell us about the connection between the student and the instruction?  Very Little.   A school system with a high number of limited English proficiency students which allocates its best resources toward the development of college prep coursework is probably going to have all manner of graduation rate problems or testing ‘failures.’  If the course-work itself doesn’t meet the needs of the student population it’s hard to imagine any other result.   A school system which allocates scarce resources into remedial coursework will undoubtedly leave some otherwise talented students behind their cohorts in a collegiate setting.

There are some tough questions to be asked and answered, philosophically and practically, and using simplistic references to an equation in which money = quality isn’t helpful.   There are two questions which should be asked: If we say that education is the best gift we can bestow on our children, then how much are we willing to pay for it? Secondly, how do we properly allocate and evaluate the expenditures?

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Nevada Governor’s Veto Message on Expanded Background Checks for Gun Purchases

SandovalNevada’s Republican Governor, Brian Sandoval, has vetoed SB 221 with the following rationale. (pdf)

(Oh, by the way — please be assured that the Governor really really does support expanded background checks — just not this form of expanded background checks…but notice that for all his generalized agreement in principle, his rationale for the veto is also quite generalized.)  Here goes:

(1) The bill is an “erosion” of 2nd Amendment rights, and “may subject otherwise law-abiding citizens to criminal prosecution.”  Sound familiar?  Of course, the problem with the “law-abiding citizen” argument is that everyone without an existing criminal background becomes a criminal when he or she first violates the law.  The first time a person robs a bank, the first time a person assaults another person, the first time a person embezzles, and so forth.  Or, the first time a person sells a firearm to a felon, a fugitive, a dangerously mentally unstable person, a child without parental supervision, or an undocumented person, or a person against whom there are outstanding restrictive orders pertaining to domestic abuse.

(2) The example cited by the Governor asserts that a “law-abiding” family member must request a background check for a gun sale to another family member, and a sale to a person who has a concealed carry permit must also be supervised by a licensed gun dealer.  The response to this so-called erosion is  a resounding So What?  There is NO prohibition of the sale, and there is NO prohibition of ownership — there is only the insertion of a federally licensed gun dealer who can provide a background check into the process.

(3)  The Governor finds it burdensome that the test for the prosecution for an unlawful transfer of a gun moves from “actual knowledge” that the buyer falls into a prohibited category to a “reasonable cause to believe” a person is included in the restrictions.  In short, what the Governor is saying is that it is perfectly OK by him if the seller only “suspects” the purchaser of being a felon, a fugitive, an undocumented person, a serious unstable individual, or a person on whom there are restrictions because of domestic abuse.  Go ahead, make the transaction even if the individual buyer is in the gun show parking lot wanting to purchase a crate of inexpensive hand guns — unless the seller has “actual knowledge” these are intended to arm local or regional drug gangs what the heck?

(4) The Governor calls the penalties for violations of the background check law “severe.”  A first offense would be a gross misdemeanor, and brings with it a restriction on firearms ownership for 2 years.  That’s it. No felony record, and 24 months later the miscreant seller can happily re-arm.  A second offense would be a Class E Felony and the “gun rights” will be lost.  Note that the bill in question, SB 221, does not prohibit firearms restrictions until after conviction for the second offense.  Another thing we might note before calling this penalty severe is that Class E is as low as you can go in this state and still be in the felony category. NRS 193.130 defines a Class E felony as follows:

A category E felony is a felony for which a court shall sentence a convicted person to imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 4 years. Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of subsection 1 of NRS 176A.100, upon sentencing a person who is found guilty of a category E felony, the court shall suspend the execution of the sentence and grant probation to the person upon such conditions as the court deems appropriate. Such conditions of probation may include, but are not limited to, requiring the person to serve a term of confinement of not more than 1 year in the county jail. In addition to any other penalty, the court may impose a fine of not more than $5,000, unless a greater penalty is authorized or required by statute.

A Class E felony maximum is four years, which can be suspended and the person granted probation “as the court deems appropriate,” and the maximum fine is $5,000.   This is hardly anywhere near the “severe” punishment level in terms of Nevada’s classifications of felonies.

(5) The Governor is hinting in his last verbiage at what might be called the Efficacy Argument. The bill is unenforceable and won’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals, at the expense of potentially making those law-abiding citizens criminals themselves.  Again, every law has the potential to make a citizen a criminal if the individual engages in proscribed acts.  Secondly, no one said the intent of the law was to prevent all criminals from getting firearms — the law already prohibits criminals from obtaining weapons — all the bill said was that we should CHECK TO MAKE SURE we aren’t selling guns to those to whom firearm ownership is already restricted.

The Governor’s veto is, indeed, a craven sop to the NRA and the gun enthusiasts who blindly believe that Everyone Everywhere should be armed, and that even requiring a quick background check to insure that guns aren’t sold to those who are already felons, fugitives, undocumented persons, juveniles, spousal abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill is unendurable.

What is unendurable is the list of shootings which since the beginning of 2012 includes Norcross GA, Jackson TN, Chardon HS OH, Pittsburgh PA, North Miami FL, Okios U Oakland CA, Tulsa OK, Seattle WA, Minneapolis MN, Oak Creek WI, Aurora CO,  Newtown CT, and most recently Santa Monica CA.

If we remember back to September 6, 2011 there were four people, law abiding citizens, killed in the Carson City IHOP by a person with a history of serious mental health issues who had modified an assault style rifle to make it fully automatic.  [MAIG]

What is unendurable is a veto message which regurgitates NRA talking points without taking even a small step toward ameliorating this situation.


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