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December 21, 2014

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Coalition aims to toughen up gun laws in Nevada

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Sue Meuschke is the executive director of the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, which coordinates the efforts of 15 domestic violence organizations that serve all 17 Nevada counties.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is out of politics, but he wants on the Nevada ballot.

His gun-control advocacy group, Everytown for Gun Safety, is bankrolling a Nevada initiative that aims to restrict firearm access for criminals and the mentally ill.

In 2013, the Nevada Legislature passed a law that would have required background checks for guns transferred or sold at gun shows or among friends and family, but Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed it.

Everytown for Gun Safety now is working with local and national gun-control groups to form Nevadans for Background Checks. Last week, the group began canvassing the state to collect signatures to add a question to the 2016 ballot: Should unlicensed firearms dealers be able to sell guns without running background checks?

Susan Meuschke joined the gun-control coalition to try to make sure they can’t.

Meuschke is executive director of the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence. She said the background check push isn’t about naming gun owners on a registry, “it’s about suicide and law enforcement and keeping guns away from dangerous folks.”

What will stricter background checks do to protect people from violence at home?

Federal legislation prohibits anyone who has been convicted of domestic violence from purchasing a firearm. In the states where the loophole has been closed, 38 percent fewer women have been shot to death by their domestic partners. The link is there and has been documented and has been there for many years. It’s the reason why there was legislation passed in other states.

What is the magic number of signatures you need to get this on the ballot?

It’s around 101,000.

Why is Nevada a touchstone state in the battle for tighter background checks?

We don’t have very good gun laws regarding domestic violence. Nevada has a high rate of women killed by men with handguns. Per capita, Nevada has led the nation in five of the last seven years.

Opponents of background check laws say new measures won’t stop bad guys from getting guns. Do you believe that?

If that is the measure by which we either pass laws or don’t pass laws, then most of our laws should be done away with. We know this will not be 100 percent effective. What we’re saying is that if only one person is saved, it is worth it. But we believe it will be more than that.

What do you want to happen in Nevada?

We need to change the attitude that people have about violence in the home — that somehow what happens in the privacy of a home doesn’t spill out in the community and impact all of

What don’t you want to see?

I don’t want this to become a hate-filled angry and ugly discussion.

*Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

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