The Nevada Assembly Government Affairs Committee will be considering AB 196 on Friday, March 15th. The bill is sponsored by: Wheeler, Ellison, Paul Anderson, Fiore, Oscarson, Duncan, Grady, Hansen, Hardy, Hickey, Kirner, Livermore, Stewart, Woodbury, Gustavson, Cegavske, Settelmeyer, and it states:
“Chapter 228 of NRS is hereby amended by adding thereto a new section to read as follows: If directed by the Governor or if, in the opinion of the Attorney General, the rights of residents of this State under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution have been infringed by an executive order issued by the President of the United States and it is necessary that a suit be commenced in any federal or state court to protect and secure such rights, the Attorney General shall commence the action. Sec. 2. This act becomes effective upon passage and approval. ” [AB 196 pdf]
Now what might have the gun-nut knickers in a twist in the Nevada Legislature? The bill proposes to have the State of Nevada challenge any Executive Order the President has or may issue deemed to “infringe” on the 2nd Amendment. Now which of the Presidential actions taken since January 26th might the conspiracy theory driven anti-government adherents of the NRA caliginous vision of America could be “an infringment?” Let’s look at the list. (pdf)
#1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system. Unless one is convinced that NO background checks are necessary, and any background investigation is a threat to the right protected in the 2nd Amendment, then there seems little for the gun manufacturing advocates to find objectionable.
#2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system. Again, this is about federal agencies facilitating the background check system already in place, and hence it’s hard to see why the Nevada Attorney General should go charging into court.
#3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system. Once more, we’re talking about a background information investigation system already in place, the President is simply offering federal assistance to states to improve the efficacy of the system.
#4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks. The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 provided the following categories of persons who are not to purchase firearms in this country: (a) a minor; (b) a person who has been convicted of, or is under indictment for, a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; (felony) (c) a person who is a fugitive from justice; (d) is an unlawful user or is addicted to contraband drugs; (e) is an undocumented alien; (f) a person who has renounced his or her citizenship (g) is a person subject to a court order restraining him or her from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner, his or her child or a child of a partner or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; (h) or, is a person who has been convicted of violating a domestic violence statute.
Now, should the U.S. Attorney General decide that the categories listed above do not take in consideration the possible sale of firearms to individuals who have been recently and involuntarily hospitalized for a mental illness which causes his or her physician, and perhaps even family members, to have very rational concerns that the firearm could be used to commit a suicide, or even a homicide, — would the Nevada State Attorney General be required to launch a suit seeking to block this executive order directing a review?
#5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun. Give a moment’s thought to the gun seized from an individual convicted of stalking and domestic violence. When should the gun be returned? Under what circumstances? Notice that the Executive Order doesn’t prohibit the gun from being returned, but it does give local law enforcement permission to run a full background check before the gun is restored to its owner. There could be questions raised legitimately — Has the individual violated any restraining orders? Has the person committed the same egregious behavior with persons other than the original victim? Has the person been convicted of a felony during the period his or her firearm was retained by authorities? Surely, we’d not want to ignore the best efforts our local law enforcement personnel to prevent a violent offender from perpetrating further violence?
#6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers. A letter from the ATF giving guidance to gun dealers, most of whom are honest brokers, is possible grounds for an expensive state law suit?
#7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign. Is the Nevada Attorney General to file suit against a public education effort to promote gun safety and responsible ownership? In what possible environment do we infer that calls for safety and responsibility are a threat?
#8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission). As in the case of a public education campaign, a person would have to be well off the rails before thinking that having the CPSC review its safety standards for locks and safes. A suit from the State of Nevada on this point would surely fit the definition of Frivolous.
#9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations. Once more, we’re not speaking of any NEW imposition of restrictions on the right to bear arms. This order directs Federal law enforcement to trace guns already recovered in criminal investigations.
#10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement. This isn’t much of anything new either. Information on lost and stolen firearms should be shared with local law enforcement. A better question might be why haven’t we been sharing this kind of analysis with local law enforcement before this point?
Now we’re are into some territory into which the NRA has intruded to object to gun inventory regulations. Thanks to the NRA sponsored Tiahrt Amendment:
“The ATF can’t require gun dealers to conduct an inventory to account for lost or stolen guns; records of customer background checks must be destroyed within 24 hours if they are clean enough to allow the sale; and trace data can’t be used in state civil lawsuits or in an effort to suspend or revoke a gun dealer’s license.” [ProPublica]
Now, we have to be careful about precisely whom we are protecting. Under the terms of the Tiahrt Amendment the gun database is not public, and it’s voluntary. Those legitimate retail gun dealers are certainly going to keep track of their inventory — any retailer who doesn’t is begging for bankruptcy. Thus, if the regulation of inventories isn’t going to have an impact on the business practices of legitimate and responsible retailers, then who might be annoyed? Perhaps it would be the irresponsible ones? The ones who created the following problem:
“A 2008 analysis by the Brady Campaign found that in the previous 12 months, about 30,000 guns had gone missing from federally licensed firearm dealers. Gun control advocates say the ATF could issue regulations calling for gun dealers to better secure their inventory without having to pass brand new laws.”
Again, would the sponsors of AB 196 demand that the Attorney General of the State of Nevada file suit because gun dealers who can’t, or won’t, track their own inventories want “freedom” to lose firearms, and have those guns end up in all the wrong hands?
#11. Nominate an ATF director. Considering the lack of Senatorial cooperation with this simple item it’s hard to see how this could be fodder for a state to litigate. On December 23, 2010 the Senate “returned” the nomination of Andrew Traver to head the ATF. [MainJustice] The NRA objected to the agency veteran’s nomination, which didn’t make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The President nominated Todd Jones, who has been serving as the interim director since 2011, in 2013. Is there hope this nominee might make it past Republican filibusters?
“The largest obstacle to Jones’s confirmation, however, has nothing to do with his biography; he has, after all, proven that he can lead the bureau. Rather, it’s the manner in which A.T.F. directors are confirmed: since 2006, the position of A.T.F. has required Senate approval, but given the perpetual political strife inherent to A.T.F.’s domain — gun violence in particular — not a single nominee has been confirmed in almost seven years.” [NatlJournal 1/2013]
Want to hog tie an agency? Require its leadership to endure Senatorial advice and consent, and then filibuster every nominee to hold the position for nearly seven years.
#12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations. Do the sponsors of AB 196 find this sharing of information and expertise an objectionable activity, and a threat to 2nd Amendment provisions?
#13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime. Somewhere I recall hearing gun enthusiasts proclaiming that Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People — and if this is true then its corollary “enforce the laws already on the books…” must also be acceptable. Exactly what the President proposes to encourage the law enforcement agencies under his direction to do.
#14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. Now we’re back into tricky territory again, and the attempts by the NRA to prevent research like the Kellermann Study. Here’s some background on this subject:
In 1996, some members of Congress tried to completely defund the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which was doing gun research, Live Science explains. Instead, lawmakers stripped $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget — the exact amount it had spent on gun injury research the year before. Congress forbade research that might ”advocate or promote gun control.” In 2003, Kansas Rep. Todd Tiahrt forbid the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from giving researchers data about guns used in crime. Last year, the National Institutes of Health was blocked from funding gun research. The efforts have had impressive results. According to a letter to Biden signed by 100 researchers, the NIH has funded just three studies on gun injuries in the last 40 years. Hey, that’s three whole studies, right? Hardly censorship! Well, the researchers point out that guns have injured 4 million people since 1973, while four infectious diseases have affected just 2,000 — and the NIH has funded almost 500 studies on them. The letter protests that “legislative language has the effect of discouraging the funding of well-crafted scientific studies.” [Atlantic]
And what did we learn from the Kellermann Study?
“Former Emory University researcher Art Kellermann told NPR that while at Emory, he found that a gun kept at home was 43 times more likely to be used in the death of a member of the household than it was to be used to defend the household from a bad guy. The National Rifle Association pressured Emory to stop Kellermann’s research, but it didn’t. Kellermann told NPR, “[T]hey turned to a softer target, which was the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], the organization that was funding much of this work. And although gun injury prevention research was never more than a tiny percentage of the CDC’s research budget, it was enough to bring them under the fire of the NRA.” [Atlantic] (emphasis added)
The NRA, whose goal it is to convince us that we NEED firearms to protect our property, our loved ones and ourselves, from the Apocalyptic Chaos of Modern American Society, doesn’t want us to find out that we’re 43 times more likely to face a family tragedy than to face down The Intruders.
Are the sponsors of AB 196 taking the Anti-Science Stance, a troglyditic position demanding that any research on any subject the results of which might be uncomfortable or inconvenient for gun manufacturers be immediately and thoroughly eradicated? Would government sponsored research on public health issues (like the number of people killed or injured by gun violence, and the economic costs thereof) be enough to initiate a law suit from the Nevada Attorney General’s office?
#15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies. It might seem obvious why the NRA would oppose this report, but equally obvious why some technology development companies might see this as a way to improve their profitability. The spectacle of a Nevada AG suing to restrain a company from developing a new gun safety technology is a capitalist’s worst nightmare.
#16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes. Given the results of the Kellermann Study, it would stand to reason that the family doctor might want to ask if firearms were located in the home. We also understand that the NRA doesn’t want us to know about the 43:1 odds against us. However, there are other reasons the physician might want to ask about gun and their storage in the home, a 2005 study reported:
“Rates of unintentional firearm death were found to be 4% higher in states where an additional 1% of gun owning households kept a gun that was loaded. This death rate rose to 6% higher in states where an additional 1% of people kept a gun both loaded and unlocked in their home.
The study notes that its findings support the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association’s recommendations that guns should be stored unloaded and locked in order to reduce the chance of injury or death. The study concludes that: “promoting safer storage practices could save many lives.”
Are the advocates of AB 196 contending that a family physician has no legitimate interest in figures which demonstrate that having a gun in the house, especially if it is kept loaded and unlocked, present a health hazard? The NRA certainly has an interest in keeping us from finding out that the gun in the bedstand doesn’t really make us safer. Is the Nevada Attorney General supposed to ask a court to prevent the family doctor from imparting some familial advice?
#17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities. How on God’s Little Blue Planet is THIS an affront to 2nd Amendment rights?
#18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers. This is essentially aligned with the NRA’s demand for more armed officers in schools, it’s difficult to image why the sponsors of AB 196 would object, much less require the Attorney General’s office to stop the wheels.
#19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Again, this seems to be a common sense response to the uncommonly devastating problem of school shootings.
What’s the Problem?
The sponsors of AB 196 appear to be marching to the NRA tune. It is not in the interest of gun manufacturers to (1) have people find out just how dangerous a firearm in the home can be, especially if it is in untrained or irresponsible hands; (2) have sales restricted in any way — including sales that are “off record” and “off the radar” of local law enforcement officers. While the firearms industry has every right to make a profit, it does not have the license to squash any and all efforts to promote gun safety, gun sales restrictions to individuals who have no business owning much less bearing a firearm, or to impinge on the ability of technology based firms from promoting their gun safety products.
In short, the sponsors of AB 196 give every appearance of adopting the anti-government, almost hysterical, and thoroughly irresponsible position of the bitter-enders in the gun enthusiastic community. Nevada is bigger and better than that.