And so, it has started. Despite much rhetoric by the Democrats up in Carson City about working together in a bipartisan effort in the 2019 Legislature, they are quickly pushing through their main platform items without input or support from the Republicans.
Two of the bills that have been on the fast track by Nevada Democrats are Senate Bills (SB) 120 and 143. SB143, the background check bill, was passed in a mere five days.
According to the legislative website, the bill is an act relating to firearms; repealing, revising and reenacting provisions relating to background checks for certain sales or transfers of firearms; prohibiting a fee from being charged for certain background checks; requiring a licensed dealer of firearms to conduct a background check before a private party sale or transfer in certain circumstances; providing a penalty; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.
Democrats touted the bill as a more effective solution to the 2016 voter initiative that approved background checks.
Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt said the 2016 initiative could not be implemented because it required the FBI to conduct the checks and the federal agency declined.
Proponents of SB143 stated that it was primarily aimed at gun shows to stop illegal gun sales but interestingly Section 3, part 7 goes on to state: “requiring background checks on all firearms sales and transfers, with reasonable exceptions, including for immediate family members, hunting and self-defense.”
That provision greatly increases the scope of the bill beyond gun shows. Section 3, part 5 also states: “Most Nevadans live within 10 miles of a licensed gun dealer.” I think the bill drafters might want to get out and drive around the rural areas a little. They might be surprised to find rural gun owners have to go far beyond 10 miles to get to a licensed gun dealer. It might be 10 miles just to get to their nearest neighbor!
In speaking out against SB143, Assemblyman Gregory Hafen (Assembly District 36) states: “This is a flawed bill. What works for urban New York doesn’t work for rural Nevada.”
Prior to passage, Republican Sen. Keith Pickard submitted an amendment that he said would remove what he called “superfluous language” in the bill and more clearly define exemptions and details of situations where a gun sale or transfer is not necessary. The proposed amendment was defeated with a voice vote on the Senate floor.
SB120 “provides for the issuance of orders of protection to high-risk behavior.”
The bill would add provisions to existing laws to provide for the issuance and enforcement of an emergency, ex parte or extended order for protection against high-risk behavior. Section 9 of the proposed bill defines “high-risk behavior.”
The bill relies heavily on the use of ex parte. Merriam-Webster defines ex parte as: (1) on or from one side or party only —used in legal proceedings or (2) from a one-sided or partisan point of view. The bill would allow the order for protection to be ordered by one side without the knowledge or input from the other side. It eliminates the right of “due process.”
Section 12 of SB120 states that each order of high-risk behavior must require the adverse party to surrender any firearm in his or her possession or control.
It prohibits the adverse party from possessing a firearm while the order is effect. The bill adds a provision that allows any law enforcement officer to arrest the adverse party in possession of a firearm without a warrant.
Reasonable people will more than likely agree that keeping guns out of the hands of people that would use them for harm is a good idea.
The problem is that these bills paint every gun owner in the state with the same broad brush and that just doesn’t work for the rural parts of Nevada. Adding further regulations tightens the restrictions on gun ownership for law-abiding citizens.
Expecting rural residents to spend hours driving hundreds of miles to have a third party verify that they can sell or transfer a gun is not practical or necessary.
In testimony before the Legislature regarding SB143, victims of the October shooting in Las Vegas stated, “Expanded background checks would not have stopped 1 October shooting.”
Making gun ownership more difficult for rural residents will not stop the tragedy of those types of shootings either.
Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org