Members of the grassroots movement Nevadans for Freedom that aims to defeat Question 1 on the November ballot have asked Nye County voters for support.
The members of the National Rifle Association-sponsored group hope to drum up enough support ahead of Nov. 8 to fight off the proposal that would require a background check for private gun sales in Nevada.
Kevin Kam, Las Vegas campaign field representative for Nevadans for Freedom, said the organization wants to reach out to all registered voters and not just NRA members and gun owners.
“In order for us to win, we need more than just gun owners and NRA members to vote no on this,” Kam told the group that gathered at the Pahrump Nugget on Thursday night.
The group needs help with canvassing and phone banking.
“Those are the two most important things, phone calls and door knocking. We really need help doing that,” Kam said.
Keely Hopkins, Nevada grassroots field coordinator at Nevadans for Freedom, said the campaign has been active throughout the state.
“The more you know about question one, the more likely you are to vote against it. We just have to make sure that everyone’s aware of this initiative and they know that it’s not just background checks for private sales. This criminalizes a lot of hunting activities, law-abiding gun uses,” Hopkins said.
The proposal was qualified through the initiative process. During the 2015 session, the Legislature did not enact the measure.
A number of Nevada officials, including Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt, previously stated their opposition to a Nevada background check initiative.
Additionally, most sheriffs in Nevada, Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly among them, said they don’t support the effort. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo remained neutral on the question.
A background check is currently not required for purchasing a gun from an unlicensed seller in Nevada. Under the proposed initiative, an unlicensed person who wants to sell or transfer a gun would have to do the transfer through a licensed gun dealer who would do a background check on the buyer or transferee.
While the proponents of the initiative say that it will make it harder for criminals to obtain guns, the opponents argue that it will criminalize private gun transfers and will not stop criminals from getting guns.
“The Question 1 gun control ballot initiative will criminalize virtually every private firearms transfer in Nevada. Under this measure, many commonplace activities of law-abiding gun owners would be subject to government mandates and fees that would cost Nevadans time, money, and freedom,” said Catherine Mortensen, media liaison for NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
Question 1 is not about making Nevadans any “safer,” it is part of a broader national gun control agenda that’s being pushed by billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mortensen said.
Nevadans for Background Checks Spokeswoman Jennifer Crowe said background checks are an effective tool to help keep criminals from getting guns.
“We support Question 1 because while no one law can prevent every crime, we know that closing the loophole will help reduce gun violence and save lives,” Crowe said. “In the states with similar laws, there are 48 percent fewer police officers killed with guns and 46 percent fewer women shot and killed by their intimate partners.”
Nevadans for Background Checks received most of its funding from Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that is backed by Bloomberg. Of the $3.6 million in contributions to Nevadans for Background Checks over the last two years, $2.9 million came from Everytown, according to the data provided by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Crowe said the coalition also received “significant” contributions from MGM, Caesars Entertainment Corp., and Wynn Resorts.
Question 1 earned the endorsements of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, the Latin Chamber of Commerce and former Clark County Sheriff Bill Young.
“No one law can prevent every crime, but background checks made it harder for criminals to get guns and that will save lives,” Crowe said. “It’s just that simple.”
Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at email@example.com