Is it really about guns?

On November 18, 1978, 909 people died in Texas. In 1927 the worst school massacre in U.S. history occurred in Bath, Michigan. On April 19, 1995, 168 people died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. On March 25, 1990, in New York City, 87 people died. On Sept. 11, 2001, 3,000 people died in New York City.

What do all of these incidents have in common? One, they were all mass murders as classified by the FBI. Two, in none of these incidents was a firearm involved or a single shot fired. The first, of course, is the Jonestown Massacre. Those who died drank poison. The school massacre was accomplished by dynamite, which incidentally was and is controlled much more strictly than firearms. The Oklahoma incident was a fertilizer bomb and the New York City mass killing was by arson. 9/11, of course, was accomplished by box cutters and jetliners.

These incidents took five minutes of online research and are but a few of the mass killings found that did not involve firearms. Yet if you listen to the media, only guns are to blame for mass murder.

That is the supposed premise of Question 1 on the November ballot. This ballot measure proposes mandatory background checks for any transfer of nearly any functioning firearm, with a few exceptions. The stated intent is to keep firearms out of the hand of criminals or the mentally ill. The real purpose is far more hidden and far more ominous.

If you believe the media, taking away guns (they can’t even use the correct terminology) will make us safer. They even say no one wants to take away your guns, just from those who might go on a shooting rampage. Question 1 will be touted as a measure to prevent such an occurrence. Unfortunately, they want to be the ones who decide who that might be.

I have read the measure. Even if I were to support some measure for universal background checks, which I don’t, this question is poorly written. There are several terms used where there is simply no definition in any Nevada statute. I believe it is deliberately so. Make no mistake, this measure is proposed by progressives. Progressives want nothing more than to be the ones to clear up these questions.

For example, Section 6, Paragraph 5 provides for temporary transfer of a firearm and lists five exceptions, yet “temporary” is not defined. What is temporary? Two minutes, two days, or two years? The way the question is written, who knows? I am not sure I want to leave that decision up to a progressive judge somewhere. One of the provisions for temporary transfer is “while in the presence of the transferor.” I guess if that is true, then a terrorist with legally owned firearms can loan one to another terrorist as long as both go on the shooting rampage together.

This measure is opposed by the sheriffs of 16 of Nevada’s 17 counties. The remaining one, Clark County, is neutral. That, if nothing else, should convince you that this measure is bad news.

As the opening paragraph illustrates, nutcases bent on killing will find a way. If not firearms, how about hammers, knives, cars, or fertilizer. Banning firearms won’t change that fact. According to FBI statistics, cars kill far more people annually than firearms. So do fires. So does water.

Responsible gun owners are far less likely to commit crimes than the population as a whole. Less than one-tenth of one percent of licensed concealed carry holders in the U.S. are ever convicted of a crime with a firearm. Most of those convictions are due to poor judgment in their use of force or to an overzealous anti-gun government prosecutor trying to make a point.

The Second Amendment was not added to assure firearm ownership for hunting, competition, or enjoyment. Rather, it was intended to provide for protection of self or against a tyrannical government. Read Federalist Papers No. 28 and 29 by Alexander Hamilton and No. 46 by James Madison. These writings make clear that when a government betrays its people by amassing too much power, the states or the individuals have the right to self-defense against that tyranny.

And thus the underlying motive for Question 1. Progressives don’t want to make us safer. They want to make themselves safer against an uprising against their grand plans for an over-reaching federal government. Question 1 is only a camel’s nose in that tent. If you value your safety, vote no.

Tom Riggins’ column appears every other Friday. He may be reached at


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