Checking the Background: We were horrified when the news reported on December 15, 2012 that a classroom full of elementary school children was slaughtered, surely that incident would be enough to create a demand for action to reduce the chances of any repetition. It wasn’t. As of May 7, 2013 another 71 children died — 31 as homicides, 40 classified as “accidental.” [MJ] The incidents were sufficient to allow the passage of SB 221, a background check bill, which got through the State Legislature in spite of solid Republican opposition. [DB]
Then the NRA launched its flying monkeys, and the calls to the Governor’s office were 3-1 in favor of a veto. [LVRJ] Governor Sandoval caved, and vetoed the measure. [LVSun] His veto message cited “unreasonable burdens on law abiding citizens” as a reason to veto the universal background check bill. [VM June 2013, pdf] [DB]
Also included in the veto message was the tired excuse offered by gun enthusiasts — the bill would do little to prevent the proliferation of firearms among criminals. As mentioned often before, the opponents of gun safety legislation are wont to argue that if a bill doesn’t (a) present a perfect solution to a complex problem, or (b) if any potential tragedy isn’t specifically addressed, then there’s no reason to try any proposal because it might “erode 2nd Amendment rights.” [more at DB 6/17/13] Unfortunately, the concept of erosion has been glued to the NRA mantra that any attempt to delineate reasonable limitations on 2nd Amendment rights is anathema. [Discussed previously here]
Progress? Given this recent history of attempts in Nevada to address something as generally popular in the state as universal background checks, it’s nice to see that people are still willing to address the issue, in the face of the opposition — now wrapped in their ‘cop killer flag’ and seething with post Bundy-ian anti-government rage?
An initiative petition (pdf) [RR] has been filed with the Secretary of State by Nevadans for Background Checks, and supported by the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence. [LVRJ] Supporters have their work cut out for them, collecting at least 101,667 signatures by Nov. 11. Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than the simple collection of signatures: “Statewide petitions filed in 2014 require 101,667 valid signatures from registered Nevada voters including at least 25,417 signatures from each of the four Petition Districts. (NRS 293.127563(2))” [NVSoS] The Petition Districts are coterminous with the Congressional Districts. [map pdf NVSoS]
One resident of District 2 has already weighed in:
“This is the back door to gun registration – the current preferred avenue to gun confiscation being pushed by the virulent Left. Useless for one thing. There will always be illegal traffic in firearms. Prohibition taught us that making something illegal creates an industry out of thin air. The modern drug industry is also an example. It’s also unconstitutional. But that’s the point. Devalue the Constitution and disarm those willing to defend it.” [EDFP]
Recognize the arguments? (1) The government just wants to confiscate guns, + (2) we can’t do anything about it so it’s best not to even try. However, the next comment was right in line with the Absolutists: “ANY infringement on the right to keep and bear arms is unconstitutional. Against the law of the land. Illegal. Get it?” [EDFP] Evidently, this Absolutists conflates infringement with inconvenience?
The Ralston Report makes a pertinent observation: “Similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval last session. Wonder which base gets more fired up….”
The answer may well be “both,” or “all of the above?” Certainly, the Absolutist gun enthusiasts as exemplified by our District Two commenter will be moved to go the polls, but then that person is very likely already so moved. Years of accumulated belief in the inefficacy of government, the imposition of unreasonable taxation, and the ‘freedom’ arguments revolving around gun safety legislation, are likely to have produced a Government Fearing Anti Tax voter.
A more interesting question might be how many liberals, progressives, moderates, and independent thinking Nevadans might be moved to newly increased levels of interest in the off year elections by the inclusion of a ballot question about which they feel they have an interest?
In some respects this is roughly akin to the conservative wedge issue tactics of elections long gone by — witness the anti-abortion, or anti-gay marriage referenda and initiatives pushed since the 1980s in various states which drove turn out from specific groups. There’s nothing inherently bothersome about taking a page from the opposition handbook and trying it out in a new setting.
If advocates of improved gun safety legislation can’t get everything they might want, background checks, ammunition capacity limits, and assault weapons bans –then there’s nothing wrong with attempting to get at least one slice of the pie. It isn’t like the Tea Party, NRA, anti-government folks have recently covered themselves in glory.