By Mark Waite
Nye County commissioners followed up an ordinance on gun rights introduced at their last meeting with a resolution Tuesday declaring they would preserve and defend the Second Amendment.
The resolution is one of many passed in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December that took the lives of 20 children and six adults that spurred a new nationwide gun control debate.
The resolution, requested by county commission chairman Butch Borasky, repeats the wording of the Second Amendment.
“The Board of County Commissioners of Nye County, Nevada, desires to adopt a formal resolution to preserve and defend the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and Section 11 of the Nevada Constitution,” the resolution states.
It adds the Second Amendment protects the right of self defense, defense of others, defense of the nation and assumes the right of hunting and sport shooting.
“There are forces in our country that are striving to take away our right to bear arms,” the resolution reads.
It refers to two U.S. Supreme Court cases, District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, which held that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right.
“All 17 of the county sheriffs in Nevada expressed in a letter they feel the best way to address gun violence is not necessarily by limiting magazine capacities or types of guns for purchase but rather by addressing issues behind violence, such as mental illness, gangs and drugs,” the resolution states. “The county of Nye, State of Nevada, will not enforce any unlawful and unconstitutional statutes, executive orders, international treaties or other regulations and proclamations that conflict and are expressly preempted by the rulings of the United States Supreme Court on the right of an individual to keep and bear arms.”
The county commission encourages the head of each household within Nye County to possess a firearm fit for personal defense, to acquire professional training and maintain a safe household for that firearm in an effort to prevent accidents.
Borasky wanted to add two paragraphs from an Elko County Commission resolution. They state studies by the National Academy of Sciences and the Center for Disease Control found no evidence gun control laws actually reduce crime and that Americans today are safer from gun crime than at any time since the 1960s.
Commissioner Donna Cox said the resolution was discussed at a meeting of the Concerned Citizens for a Safe Community Monday night. The CCSC wanted to delete language about addressing issues behind the violence, like mental illness, gangs and drugs.
Cox also wanted to include wording that Nye County residents would have the ability to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Sheriff Tony DeMeo said that would be against state law.
Commissioner Dan Schinhofen, who was attending a Nevada State Legislature meeting, said by conference call from Carson City that he wouldn’t amend his motion to include Cox’s changes.
“We could get into the weeds here and make this 20 pages long, this is a resolution that really has no force of law,” Schinhofen said. He added, “We are encouraging heads of households to be armed. This doesn’t mean households have to be armed. This is just how the board feels.”
Commissioner Lorinda Wichman read a letter from Dennis Crooks of Pahrump who objected to the resolution and told commissioners to address higher priorities.
“The schools in Pahrump are extremely overcrowded, money for education is scarce and the dropout rate is one of the worst in America. The roads are horrible and badly in need of repair. Very few jobs and almost no good paying jobs can be found in this valley. Our health care system is ranked as one of the poorest in America,” Crooks wrote.
“So instead of trying to tackle any of the real problems we face, you will be wasting your time voting on a resolution about the Second Amendment. Please spend your time and energy on issues that will truly benefit the people of Nye County. Do not grandstand to the crazy gun crowd who thinks the government is actually going to take away their guns. This will never happen,” he wrote.
Crooks said, “Certain types of weapons probably do not belong in the hands of the general public. Shooting 20 six-year-old children with five to 10 bullets in each of their bodies in a minute or two demands some reasonable response.”
Amargosa Valley Town Board member John Bosta said he didn’t think it was appropriate to pass a resolution while the county commission was waiting for the public hearing on an ordinance addressing gun rights.
But there were a handful of supporters who spoke up in favor of the agenda item.
“This Second Amendment issue is not about guns, it’s about whether politicians and people in authority can nullify the rights of people as we speak,” Louis DeCanio said.
He added, “to create any new laws and stipulations basically nullifying the Second Amendment will not solve any problems, but force people to choose sides between the patriot freedom fighters and the gestapo. We all know gun laws only affect law abiding citizens.”
Dean Brooks said the state law the sheriff referred to was “a contradiction to the God-given right to bear arms.”
“All we have to do is violate those laws en masse and get them changed. In this country, according to the Second Amendment, in order to maintain a free state you need a well-armed militia and the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed. There should be no gun laws in this country,” Brooks said.
The National Rifle Association every month cites examples of four or five people who stopped crime simply by showing a gun, he said.
Brooks said the people should be able to have the weapons the military has.
Kenny Bent said he was grateful for the resolution.
“I think it’s Jefferson who said we will have as much tyranny as we accept until we draw a line in the sand. I appreciate we are making that move, making a statement as a community,” he said.
But like Cox, he thought the county was leaving the door open with the clause about people with mental illness.
“I would just like to see that portion of it removed so we’re not opening a door for setting up classes of people,” he said.
County Commissioner Frank Carbone agreed with Bent, he felt that clause could cause some people to lose their rights in a heartbeat. But it stayed in the resolution.