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September 23, 2014

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OTHER VOICES:

Present law in Nevada makes it easy for abusers to buy guns

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Last October, a young woman in Milwaukee named Zina Daniel filed a domestic violence restraining order against her husband. This barred him from obtaining a firearm under federal law, but several days later, he did just that, purchasing a Glock semiautomatic handgun online from a private seller who was not required to conduct a background check. The next day, the husband murdered Ms. Daniel and two other women and injured four others at the spa where she worked.

This tragedy occurred in Wisconsin, but it is the type of incident that takes place all too often in our state — and one that we must do everything in our power to prevent. That opportunity is in front of us now as the Nevada Legislature considers Senate Bill 221, which would require background checks for all gun sales. While the U.S. Senate failed to uphold public safety on a similar measure in Washington last month, here in Nevada we must take action to protect the lives domestic violence victims in our state.

As the law currently stands, domestic abusers, felons and the mentally ill are able to avoid background checks and purchase firearms from unlicensed dealers online or at gun shows from private sellers. Roughly 40 percent of all gun sales take place in the private market in this country. Without requiring a background check, we simply have no way of preventing an individual intent on doing harm from obtaining a weapon for that purpose.

As the executive director of Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, I have heard the voices of men and women in abusive relationships that can turn violent quickly and with terrible consequences. In fact, Nevada has ranked No. 1 for most female gun murders for five out of the last six years. The presence of a gun in domestic violence altercations increases the chance of homicide for women by 500 percent.

Clearly, we must keep guns out of the hands of every abuser whom a judge has deemed legally unfit to purchase a weapon.

Other states have done so with remarkable success. Thirty-eight percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners in states that have passed universal background check laws similar to the one before the legislature in Carson City. These successes show that the National Instant Background Check System works. Since its inception in 1998, the system has blocked more than 2 million gun sales to individuals who are prohibited from owning a firearm. Of this group of thwarted purchasers, domestic abusers are second only to felons in the number of prevented sales. All we need to do now is to close the loophole for private sellers in Nevada and finally fill the gaps in the system.

This reform will in no way infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Nevadan gun owners. It is simply a measure to ensure that those who threaten to unleash the horrors of gun violence on our citizens are kept at bay. Of course, Nevadans know that this common-sense solution is necessary. An astonishing 86 percent of Nevada residents support requiring background checks on all gun sales.

At NNADV, we provide support to domestic violence organizations whose workers witness the consequences of gun violence far too often. Women who live in fear of abusive partners should not have to suffer an additional anxiety that their abuser’s restraining order or domestic violence conviction will not prevent him or her from obtaining a gun. It is unfathomable that we would not act to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and that those most at risk of victimization in our state are protected when they need it most.

Sue Meuschke is the executive director of Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence.

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  1. Great goal, but how do we achieve it without trampling the Constitutional rights of honest, hard working Americans who are not law-breakers? I know of no one who champions allowing violent or abusive men or women to arm themselves. I'm sure the vast majority of us would like to see all domestic abuse stopped, but we cannot go off half-cocked and destroy the rights of the many because of the few. We must think it through carefully. There may be many unintended consequences if we do not.

  2. Nationwide, 8 and/or 9 out of 10 gun crimes are committed with illegally obtained guns. I opine Nevada is the same or close. Laws should focus on these gun criminals and crimes, not the 10 percent purchased legally. Let's deal with the 80-90 percent first and foremost, then the other 10 plus percent.

    Carmine D

  3. This is partisan politics at its absolute worst. Republicans are blocking a measure that has nearly universal public support solely to deny Obama any sort of "victory."

    It's disgusting.

  4. First, we have people in government who had trouble passing laws to protect women from domestic violence.

    Second, although most of the nation wants weapons registered, the lobbyists for weapons manufacturers won their battle falsely claiming we would lose 2nd amendment rights.

    Third, the number of people buying guns is down. It's those who buy guns are buying more and stockpiling their weapons.

  5. antigov;

    As usual you did your ready, fire, aim attack. Reread my post.

    Carmine D

  6. Let me try again using another tact.

    If 9 out of 10 criminals in prison obtain guns illegally and 1 of 10, legally, then what group of gun crimes should the laws address? The 90 percent or the 10 percent? Note the 90 versus 10.

    Carmine D

  7. Trying to use common sense solutions in this state is a laughable endeavor. I believe we have been number one in 8 out of the last 10 years in terms of women shot to death by men. Nevada residents are mostly broke and large numbers are high school dropouts.

    Guns and domestic violence are a cancer on the community and there is no solution.

  8. "Last October, a young woman in Milwaukee named Zina Daniel filed a domestic violence restraining order against her husband."

    Meuschke -- it discredits your message to scrounge so far away for a case to make your point. Mandatory background checks have been in place since at least 1998. You also did not bother to mention the flip side -- a woman can cry to the court ex parte and arbitrarily strip her target of all his Constitutionally-guaranteed liberties without a hearing. Not only can he go to jail for sending his kid a birthday card, but he's defenseless against anything she wants to do to him. All with the court's and government's blessings. "Liberty and justice for all?" Not if your born with the wrong genitalia. We can all thank our current VP for much of that.

    "I'm sure the vast majority of us would like to see all domestic abuse stopped, but we cannot go off half-cocked and destroy the rights of the many because of the few. We must think it through carefully. There may be many unintended consequences if we do not."

    lvfacts -- another good post from you. I can tell you all about it some time.

    "...although most of the nation wants weapons registered, the lobbyists for weapons manufacturers won their battle falsely claiming we would lose 2nd amendment rights."

    VernosB -- so far as you imply "2nd amendment rights" must give in to the herd's bleating, your post is crap. Nothing in the Bill of Rights is subject to public opinion, and some of it is there to protect us from exactly that kind of frivolous madness.

    "...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)

  9. "VernosB -- so far as you imply "2nd amendment rights" must give in to the herd's bleating, your post is crap."

    How is gun registration an infringement on 2nd amendment rights? I never agreed with taking peoples weapons or banning citizens from buying weapons. I do however have a problem with criminals buying weapons from people who purchase weapons in bulk and cross state lines to sell them.

  10. First of all, if there was a gun registry (or if not central repository a requirement that all sellers keep records of their sales), law enforcement would not have to resort to plans like fast and furious to track how guns got into the hands of criminals.

    Second, if you use a credit card to buy a gun the Government already has access to your records. .

    Third, the Second Amendment is not the only right we have. What about the the right to "... life, liberty , and the pursuit of happiness." Surely, some record keeping is the minimally intrusive way to allow other people exercise their right to life.

  11. "How is gun registration an infringement on 2nd amendment rights?"

    VernosB -- clever twist, but that's not all your post said or implied

    "Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rulemaking or legislation which would abrogate them." -- Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 491 (1966)

  12. CarmineD (Carmine DiFazio): You argue (at 9:29 a.m.) that: "If 9 out of 10 criminals in prison obtain guns illegally and 1 of 10, legally, then what group of gun crimes should the laws address?" You appear to be arguing that we should strengthen the background check process primarily for those people who illegally obtain guns and worry about the others later. How would that work??? Would a burglar have to undergo a background check when he PLANS to steal a gun? And would have to wait for official approval before he could steal it? What if his firearm theft is NOT preplanned: he breaks into a house and only decides to steal a gun after he sees it. Does he then have to withdraw, undergo a check, and come back for the gun later?

  13. "How do you stop criminals from buying guns illegally? Do you know? Any ideas?"

    Strict enforcement of the existing gun laws on the books with prosecution, sentencing and mandatory severe jail times for violators. Keep the gun criminals off the streets and incarcerated. Once the 90 percent of gun crimes committed with illegal guns is reduced, then deal with the 10 percent committed with legal guns.

    Carmine D

  14. Robert:

    Here's a question for you? As a professional sport fisherman do you cast your net for the minnows or spend your time reeling in the big one?

    Same theory. You don't go after the minnows in the sea and let the sharks and whales go free.

    Carmine D

  15. "Strict enforcement of the existing gun laws on the books with prosecution, sentencing and mandatory severe jail times for violators. Keep the gun criminals off the streets and incarcerated."

    CarmineD -- you're painting the problem with too broad a brush. Start with exactly how "criminal" is defined. Technically being convicted of driving while using a cell phone makes one a criminal. There are literally thousands of non-violent crimes on the books. Thanx to our current VP, pleading any kind of guilty to any kind of domestic violence/abuse case strips one of all gun rights forever under federal law -- and that's not explained to the pleader. I watched that happen firsthand.

    "Where once the criminal law might have stood as a well-understood and indisputable statement of shared norms in American society, now there is only a bloated compendium that looks very much like the dreaded federal tax code. The end results can be downright ugly: a soccer mom thrown in jail in a small Texas town for failing to wear a seatbelt; a 12-year-old girl arrested and handcuffed for eating french fries in a Metro station in Washington, DC; and defendants serving 25-year to life sentences in California prisons for, among other things, pilfering a slice of pizza." -- "Overextending the Criminal Law" @ http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/v...

  16. Killer B, point well made. And in large part a result of too many laws on the books already. Which gets to my point in another post here: We go after the minnows and let the sharks go free.

    Carmine D

  17. "...point well made. And in large part a result of too many laws on the books already."

    CarmineD -- my son is a double felon from basically accepting charity from a stranger on the street. He had no intent to commit any crime, and no one was hurt. I was with him through the entire prosecution and watched him being processed by a DA wanting to rack up another conviction for his scorecard. He was processed without due process. So this is a point near and dear to me.

    For an education check out the book "Three Felonies a Day" @ http://www.cato.org/blog/tags/in-the-nam.... I'd also recommend the book "In the Name of Justice" @ www.cato.org/blog/tags/in-the-name-of-ju...

    Along those lines check out the Wall Street Journal's "As Criminal Laws Proliferate, More Are Ensnared" @ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424...

    It's some scary business what government is doing to us.

    ""Show me the man and I'll find you the crime." -- Lavrentiy Beria, chief of the Soviet security and secret police under Stalin

  18. CarmineD (Carmine DiFazio): Reference your 5:10 a.m. post: "Here's a question for you? As a professional sport fisherman do you cast your net for the minnows or spend your time reeling in the big one?"

    Answer: Am I interested in a high probability of a quick meal right now or in eventually having a trophy for my wall? In the former case, I'll take that net full of minnows any time! Even the "professional sport fisherman" has to eat occasionally. Actually, I've done the former - ever hear of a "grunion run?" Grunion do fry up really nice over a fire on the beach.

  19. "CarmineD -- my son is a double felon from basically accepting charity from a stranger on the street. He had no intent to commit any crime, and no one was hurt. I was with him through the entire prosecution and watched him being processed by a DA wanting to rack up another conviction for his scorecard. He was processed without due process. So this is a point near and dear to me."

    Did your son get jail time... probation/community service?

    Carmine D

  20. "The death penalty or life in prison sure has cut down on those types of crimes."

    Mandatory 5 years in prison, no chance for parole, for illegal purchase of a gun [for the buyer and seller] with additional jail time for the crimes committed. Yes, that would make for a good start to eliminate the gun crimes committed in the U.S.

    Carmine D

  21. Robert: The only similarity, and that's stretching it, that your fishy answer has to our justice system with regard to gun crimes is the "catch and release" program.

    Carmine D