Jeanette Strong: Rights without responsibilities (opinion)

“These days there’s a lot of talk about individual rights, but very little talk about responsibility.” Christiane Brown, Reno Gazette Journal, March 28.

The 2021 Nevada legislative session is over. During the four months of the session, hundreds of bills were presented. Several of the most important were passed. One of the most hotly debated was AB 286, the “ghost gun” bill.

Ghost guns are guns built from kits, without serial numbers, meant to be untraceable. The March 28 Reno Gazette Journal reported, “Nearly one-third of all guns confiscated in crimes today are ghost guns.” With no way to trace these guns, law enforcement loses one of its most important crime-fighting tools.

State Sen. Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, apparently doesn’t care about that. He said he didn’t see how a serial number requirement would “magically stop” criminals from obtaining firearms. (Nevada Independent, May 12)

Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, D-Henderson, had previously addressed that objection. “AB 286 won’t stop every act of gun violence. No other law stops every harmful act from occurring. If it did, we could all just go home. The point of all of these measures is to stop more incidents, save more lives, and it will help our law enforcement take guns out of the hands of people who could do harm.” (Battle Born Progress, March 17)

Christiane Brown, quoted above, said, “People who want ghost guns to remain legal are people who demand rights without responsibilities. Responsible gun owners do not need untraceable weapons; responsible gun owners register their firearms legally and responsible gun owners purchase their weapons from licensed sellers.” (Reno Gazette Journal, March 28)

Those who seem to think anyone should be able to get any gun they want have clearly not read the whole Second Amendment. They seem to forget that every right also carries responsibilities. The second and third words in the amendment are “well regulated.”

Well regulated doesn’t mean anarchy or a free-for-all. It means using reasonable regulations to make sure guns are not handed to felons, terrorists, those prone to violence, and anyone else who shouldn’t have a gun. Prohibiting ghost guns will go a long way towards accomplishing that goal.

Another law improving life for Nevadans was AB 321. This makes automatic mail-in voting permanent. All registered, active Nevada voters will receive mail-in ballots prior to every election. Nevada now joins five other states (Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado and Hawaii) using automatic mail-in voting. This proven system will work well here.

AB 126 fulfills a wish many Nevadans have expressed. It replaces the presidential caucus, which has caused much confusion, with a presidential primary. The primaries would be held the first Tuesday in February in presidential election years. Since the state, not the political parties, would be responsible for the primaries, it would cost taxpayers an estimated $5 million for each future primary.

A law benefitting everyone is SB 448, the clean energy bill. Nevada is already a leader in renewable energy. This bill promotes clean energy and will create jobs. As part of the infrastructure improvements, NV Energy will spend $100 million building electric vehicle charging stations around the state. The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support.

Two bills which will help reform our criminal justice system are AB 116 and SB 212. AB 116 decriminalizes minor traffic offenses. This means people won’t go to jail for an unpaid traffic ticket. Instead, these offenses become civil violations. This reduces the load on the criminal justice system, as it has in 37 other states. The law passed the state Senate by a 20-1 vote.

SB 212 requires police officers to implement de-escalation techniques during confrontations, before instituting deadly force. By improving training in these techniques, police and civilians will all be safer.

A major achievem
ent of the session was the passage of AB 495, a one percent tax on large silver and gold mines. The bipartisan bill was put together by mining lobbyists and teachers’ unions and passed with the two-thirds majority needed in both houses. It’s estimated it will produce $85 million a year for public school funding.

Assemblyman Tom Roberts, R-Las Vegas, said “This legislation is a win for the future of Nevada’s economy and our children’s education.” Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, called it a “monumental compromise.” Nevada’s children are the winners here.

Many other major bills were passed which will improve all of our lives. In spite of some disagreements, the 2021 legislators accomplished a lot. They deserve our thanks.

Jeanette Strong is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at


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