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May 5, 2015

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Why Nevada needs gun background checks

Gov. Brian Sandoval has an opportunity to save lives with a stroke of his pen.

The Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 221, which closes dangerous loopholes in the background check system that enable criminals to get their hands on guns. All that’s left is for Sandoval to sign it, but he has threatened to veto the life-saving measure.

On behalf of our lost loved ones, we hope he won’t.

Dave’s nephew, A.J. Boik, was murdered at the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. Elvin’s sister, Zina Daniel, was shot along with six others at a spa outside Milwaukee. Paul’s brother-in-law, Steve Forsyth, was killed at the Clackamas Town Center mall near Portland, Ore. And Bill was shot in the back of the head while tackling the gunman at the Tucson, Ariz., massacre that nearly took the life of former Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Nothing can change what happened to us, but it’s clear that expanded background checks will spare others the suffering we have endured. These checks have already saved countless lives by stopping more than 2 million gun purchases by dangerous people, but the system is undermined by dangerous loopholes.

Under current law, only federally licensed gun dealers are required to conduct background checks on gun buyers. In other words, people prohibited from owning guns can walk into a Crossroads Gun Show or log onto and purchase deadly weapons from a so-called private seller without any questions asked.

Last year, more than 6 million guns were sold this way without any background check at all. We’ll never know how many of those weapons were sold to convicted felons, domestic abusers or the dangerously mentally ill. But we do know that almost 80 percent of inmates convicted for gun crimes reported in a national survey that they acquired their weapon privately.

This flawed system can have tragic consequences. Two days after a judge issued a restraining order against Zina Daniel’s estranged husband, he posted an urgent “Want To Buy” ad on The following day, he murdered Zina with a gun he bought in a McDonald’s parking lot. The seller had asked whether Zina’s husband was prohibited from buying a gun, but no background check was conducted to catch his lie.

We can’t rely on an honor system for criminals. We appreciate Sandoval’s focus on wanting to improve record reporting to the background check system — this bill accomplishes that goal — but the system will remain fatally flawed as long as private sales are exempt.

As Republicans and independents, we admire Sandoval for his leadership on a variety of issues, and we know he means well. But Nevada’s laws ought to reflect the common sense of its citizens, 86 percent of whom support requiring a background check for every gun sale. They’re joined by more than 8 in 10 gun owners across the country, including 74 percent of members of the National Rifle Association.

That’s because most gun owners and Republicans realize that we can preserve our civil liberties while also doing everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals. This isn’t about the Second Amendment or playing politics. It’s about agreeing on a modest, reasonable measure that will save lives without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

While federal legislation stalls in the U.S. Senate, Nevada can take a lead in preventing gun violence with the signature of Sandoval. We urge him to reconsider his opposition to Senate Bill 221 and sign the bill into law.

The safety of the Nevadans who elected him depends on it.

Bill Badger is a retired U.S. Army colonel living in Arizona. Dave Hoover is a police officer in Colorado. Elvin Daniel is a sales and applications engineer in Illinois. Paul Kemp is an engineer in Oregon.

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  1. Sign it, Governor Sandoval.

    Quit playing games of setting up phone banks with trumped up one-side polls trying to skew them to give you false reasons why you shouldn't sign the background checks bill. It's not going to work.

    If you are so concerned about polls, you need to understand that well over 80 percent of Nevadans want you to sign this bill into law. Those percentages were true when Senator Heller voted against it. And it's also true now before it was taken up in the Nevada Legislature.

    Quit playing party politics and ask yourself this question: Who do you want a passing grade from?

    The NRA or the Nevada voters.

    You make the choice, Governor.

    To help you make the choice, here's another reality for you: Guaranteed you veto the background checks bill, you are going to be a one and done Governor.

    It's political hardball time, Governor.

    The voters out here will take their wrath out on you next election. You veto this bill, you won't politically survive. We'll make your choice for you and put you back in the employ of Jones Vargas.

    Do the right thing. Take care of your people. Not yourself.

  2. "Dave's nephew, A.J. Boik, was murdered at the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. . ."

    Badger, et al. -- I see none of you are in Nevada, or used a Nevada example. So what's it to ya??

    "What, next time the criminal picks up a stolen gun from the guy selling it out of the trunk of his car, the guy is going to wait for the backgound [sic] check?"

    Tick -- they keep missing that part, no?

    "If you are so concerned about polls, you need to understand that well over 80 percent of Nevadans want you to sign this bill into law."

    Colin -- your broken record again. Beside making up the percentile, you again ignore the truth that our governor's first obligation by his oath is to the Constitutions. Again, look up the promises of freedom to all of us @ and then

    The last link is to the oath every Nevada public official and officer must swear to under penalty of perjury before taking office. It's each one's promise to We the people to "support, protect and defend the constitution and government of the United States, and the constitution and government of the State of Nevada, against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign, and that I will bear true faith, allegiance and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution or law of any state notwithstanding..."

    I see nothing in there about pandering to the herd as you encourage our governor to do.

    "...the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table." -- District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. (slip opinion at 64) (2008)

  3. Would a mandatory background checks have stopped any of these? No, they wouldn't have. Law abiding citizens would....these guys weren't exactly law abiding.

    I notice tht none of the letter writers are Nevadans; I am. I want this legeslation vetoed. Meanwhile Colin talks about outsiders; the true outsiders in this discussion are Bloomberg and his ilk.

    Are we to trust the government, the day after the NSA revelations about internet and telephone surveillance? I think not. I am the NRA, and I vote.

  4. "The arguement [sic] of saying that people will still obtain guns illegally does not hold water."

    forthetruth -- for one claiming to be a gun merchant you seem quite ignorant. Just because a firearm is registered doesn't mean it won't be stolen. And as past posts on this topic have amply shown, the bill sent to the governor is a lot more than what its title claims it to be. The final bill was not carefully considered before passage, and there are provisions criminalizing others in one's household even touching it without first getting the government's permission.

    Meantime another liberty becomes a licensed privilege -- have a look @ then tell me exactly what part of "Every citizen has the right..." do you need explained?

    "The struggle for liberty has been a struggle against Government. The essential scheme of our Constitution and Bill of Rights was to take Government off the backs of people." -- Columbia Broadcasting Sys., Inc. v. Democratic Nat'l Comm., 412 U.S. 94, 162 (1973), Justice Douglas concurring

  5. The Declaration of Independence calls out "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" as "inalienable rights". The right to sell guns anonymously is not mentioned (and is laughable in a civilized society).

    Life and Liberty in particular, cannot be infringed upon for the cause of unlimited gun ownership. Background checks save lifes. Therefore, Background checks have absolute superiority over anonymous gun sales, even in your house.

    If you believe that anonymous gun sales is a god-given right, your twit god just lost.

  6. It's useless to try stopping Sandoval's veto. He said before the bill left the legislature that he would veto it. He is now trying to grandstand by setting up a totally unscientific automated "poll" (Call the number - press "1" for "sign" or "2" for "veto") that he would "monitor". He hasn't heeded the results of any of the professionally designed polls published so far. This amateurish "poll" is just the type the NRA loves: "Vote early and vote OFTEN!"

  7. This law wouldn't have stopped Adam Lanza. He committed a murder and stole the firearms that he used. He was too young to obtain the guns legally.

  8. SunJon says "Background checks save lifes." (sic)

    Really, care to share some actual data to support that claim? A drop in murder rates attributable to the legislation after background checks were enacted....or maybe an attributable increase after laws requiring background checks for private sales were repealed?

    Pick a city, pick a country....find some data to support the benefits of the law you want signed into effect. Because so far all I see are emotional claims that the law "will save lives" with no data to support it.

  9. Thinking that people who supply guns to criminals will pay any attention to a law requiring a background check for private sales makes as much sense as expecting drug dealers to collect sales tax.

    In both cases the action is already a violation of federal law. Thinking that an administrative requirement at the state level will stop anyone who was already willing to commit a felony at the federal level is absurd.