Nevada’s getting some unwanted publicity with commentary like “wild west” in regard to the Silver State’s gun laws. It’s not that the state’s residents haven’t tried:
“Last year, voters in the state narrowly passed Question 1, an initiative that required most private buyers and sellers of guns to conduct a background check through a licensed dealer. Millions of dollars from national groups supporting and opposing the law poured into the state.
The initiative, which passed by 50.4% to 49.5%, mandated that private-party gun sales — with a few exceptions, such as transfers between family members — be subject to a federal background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is administered by the FBI.” [LATimes]
Then came the December letter from the FBI saying it could not comply with the state’s requirements, and the Attorney General Adam Laxalt — not a fan of the initiative — announced that the state wouldn’t prosecute any violations of the act until the FBI changed its position. Not only did Laxalt oppose the initiative, he bragged about blocking implementation, and was duly patted on the head by the leadership of the gun manufacturers’ interest group, the NRA:
“The attorney general who made the decision, Adam Paul Laxalt, spoke at the NRA’s annual meeting this year, where he was hailed by the NRA’s chief lobbyist for ensuring that Nevada’s new background check legislation for private sales was still not the law of the land. Laxalt had publicly opposed the background check measure before it passed, a mark of opposition the NRA had publicized in its fight against the measure.” [Guardian]
Lost in the messaging melee, any reference to the FBI’s statement that the state records could also be used to run background checks to implement the new statute. Thus, the wrangle remains between gun background check advocates, anti-regulation interest groups, public safety officials, and an Attorney General’s office which has no interest whatsoever in implementing gun safety regulations.
Indeed, Laxalt sees himself as some version of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus at the bridge:
“In fact, Laxalt, who is running to replace Sandoval, boasted of his role in opposing the measure. In an April 28 speech at the NRA’s annual convention, he cited his criticism of the initiative as an example of his record of supporting gun rights. “Attorneys General,” he said, served as “the last line of defense against the Obama Administration” on gun policy.” [MJ]
A stance he will maintain in his campaign for the governorship. He will no doubt adhere to the talking points established by the National Rifle Association, i.e. we can’t stop evil; we can’t legislate away 2nd Amendment rights; suggested legislation would not have stopped the last current outrageous tragedy. Worse still, there’s the canard about “it’s not the ‘right’ time to discuss firearm regulations.”
Perhaps the best we can hope for at the moment is that House Republican leadership will withdraw HR 367, the NRA bill to allow more sales of silencers (noise suppressors), a position in opposition to law enforcement leadership who say silencers make officers’ jobs more dangerous. In a better world, the Congress and the states would move to:
Require universal background checks. While this addition may not have prevented the Las Vegas disaster, but it could stop some of the other 33,000 annual gun deaths in this country.
Ban the sale of high capacity magazines. Truth is, if I haven’t hit the target in the first ten rounds, odds are good I’m not going to — the only result may well be my attempts to explain to my insurance agent why I blew out the south end of my house trying to hit the burglar who was after a $179.95 television set. The arguments in favor of high capacity magazines range from the bizarre to the totally unpersuasive. If, as reported, most of the carnage in Las Vegas happened in the first five minutes, then limiting the capacity of the murderer’s guns could have at least reduced the number of dead and injured.
Ban the sale of kits designed to modify semi-automatic guns to automatics. Allowing the sale of devices to make legal firearms illegal makes no sense whatsoever.
In a still better world we would:
Require safe storage for all firearms. We’re losing 1,300 children every year to gun related injuries. [CNN] [Pediatrics] Some of these are suicides, some are accidental, others are intentional…all are to be deplored and the issues addressed, if for no other reason than this is the equivalent of about 22 Las Vegas shootings per year.
In order to have rational discussions about how to more effectively keep concert goers, night club celebrants, movie theater patrons, and school children safe it’s going to be necessary to filter out the NRA noise — incomprehensible noises about Slippery Slopes, Gun Confiscations, and Law Abiding Folk. Requiring insurance hasn’t deterred people from buying cars, requiring licenses hasn’t stopped people from taking bar exams and getting certified for positions in the trades and professions, and arguing that law breakers will ignore the law invites the rejoinder that if this is the case then why not legalize bank robbery if the robbers persist in going where the money is?
Some little sanity would go a long way.