With national and local elections only a month away, it’s time for Nevada voters to focus on four questions that will appear on our November ballot. Question One is a proposed amendment to Nevada law that — if passed — would require ALL firearm transfers to be subject to a federal background check. The federal check, known informally as NICS (the National Instant Background Check System), is a computer search of FBI files which tries to identify potential purchasers who are prohibited because of criminal background, mental defect, or dishonorable discharge, from owning a firearm. Domestic abuse is also a disqualifier.
The NICS check is currently required of all sellers who possess a federal firearms license. That includes gun dealers, pawn shops, exhibitors at gun shows, interstate sales, and other people who deal in more than one or a few firearms sales a year. Sellers who aren’t required to perform a NICS check are those who are not really in the business, such as someone buying a rifle from a neighbor who gave up hunting, or a pistol from an acquaintance who doesn’t have time for regular target shooting any longer. If this question passes, those types of sales would be moved from your house to a gun store, where a dealer who’s not involved in the sale would access NICS for around $25 to determine if the records show you’re disqualified.
Supporters of this amendment claim gun violence is increased when gun buyers can avoid the NICS check, and point to gun shows as a major opportunity to avoid NICS. But exhibitors at gun shows run NICS checks, and FBI statistics show most criminal activity with a firearm is the result of a transfer that would not be affected by this proposal, such as acquiring the gun through theft or gang activity. There’s no “gun show loophole,” and this amendment wouldn’t improve existing law. Most Nevada sheriffs, including Carson City’s own Ken Furlong, publicly oppose Question One, saying it would do nothing to stop gun violence.
So who supports it and who’s funding it? If you read the Appeal’s Ballot Question guide published September 27, you’ll see most of the argument supporting the amendment relies on a source identified as Everytown for Gun Safety. The IRS form for this organization notes it was formerly known as Mayors Agains Illegal Guns, which a 2015 Wall Street Journal article calls “a Bloomberg group,” referring to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He’s said to be the world’s sixth wealthiest person and is remembered for trying to outlaw giant soft drinks in New York.
Everytown’s annual IRS form is signed by John Feinblatt, formerly employed by Mayor Bloomberg working on criminal justice, immigration and gay marriage issues. That same Journal article says Feinblatt is now engaged in “a state-by-state, town-by-town fight to change gun laws.” Everytown declared $5 million income last year and $36 million, according to their latest IRS statement.
I contacted Everytown for information on its campaign. It referred me to the Safe Nevada campaign spokesperson, Jennifer Crowe, who steered me to this year’s financial filings for Nevadans for Background Checks, which revealed more than $1.6 million in cash and in-kind contributions from Everytown and other sizable donations from out of Nevada. Altogether, it appears Bloomberg has spent $3.5 million to change our law.
The proposed amendment will not stop criminals from getting guns. Governor Sandoval and Nevada Law Enforcement oppose it. It’s an out-of-state gun control effort. Please vote NO on Question One.
Fred LaSor lives in the Carson Valley and thinks Mayor Bloomberg should stay out of Nevada politics.