Margaret Konieczny: Concerns about Question 1, background check initiative
I am a concerned citizen wanting to more about Question 1 ballot initiative on gun background checks.
I went to a local gun dealer to get information on buying a gun and to get more information on Nevada state gun possession and background check laws. In addition I wanted to understand the issues around Question One. When I started to question him on Question 1 he told me that anyone letting another person use their gun even at a shooting range would be in violation of the law. When I questioned further about letting my son use my gun at a shooting range he said that would that too would be criminal.
Then I asked if I had a legally owned gun in my car and I got stopped by the police and I moved toward the gun to show him the gun would that give the policeman the right to shoot me? At that time not only he but his daughter became very upset with me. He became agitated and his voice level kept rising. He said yes the police would have a right to shoot me. Yes, I should tell the police officer I have a gun and not touch it but what matters to me is “the police have a right to shoot me if I have a gun.” I also told him my fear of a citizen who is carrying a legal gun may not keep his skills up and may not be able to use his/her gun correctly in an emergency. I gave him the scenario of a store that is being robbed by an armed robber and the citizen gun owner decides to stop the robber by using his gun. In the heat of the moment the citizen starts to shoot at the robber and I am accidentally shot and die by the citizen’s spray of bullets. He said the citizen would be held responsible. But the problem I see is that I am dead! At that he became more upset and angry refused to sell me a gun and ended up kicking me out of his store. If a gun dealer gets that emotional I would not want to buy a gun from him or be able to believe him.
So with this I was curious and went to the sheriff’s office to find out why our elected Sheriff Kenny Furlong is against this initiative as he indicates in TV ads.
Of course the sheriff was too busy so I asked the front office personnel if there will be any public information forums coming from the sheriff about why the he is against this initiative. No one knew of any. But they were helpful in locating a website regarding Question 1.
I went home and looked up and read the actual initiative. There are several exemptions to this law. Two of the exemptions are; temporary transfer of a gun between two people at a shooting range and between family members is exempt from the law. That gun shop owner made a false statement.
The law spells out in detail on who are “family” members all the way down to nieces and uncles. Even includes step children and domestic partners, whole and half blood relatives but it doesn’t specifically say cousins.
So I noticed that our Sheriff Furlong picked up on that one omission and says in the NRA sponsored TV ad that this law would prohibit temporary transfer to cousins so he is against it and we shouldn’t vote for it. Really?
So then I went to a local sports chain store to ask about their understanding of Question 1. They were very helpful. I asked and was shown a current background check form that is in use today. They said it is up to the buyer to check yes or no on the questions asked. They told me if they use both the federal and state background check sites but I understand that Nevada currently requires only a state site. I was told if the buyer lies the Federal and State data base will delay or deny and the store clerk will not sell the gun.
They also told me that all gun shows have federally licensed gun dealers and that is a requirement in order to sell at a gun show. They also indicated that gun sales over the internet cannot be done without a background check. Really? I was very skeptical over these statements. If gun shows only allow licensed gun vendors then why do we need this law?
In the final conclusion of my experience, people have the right to get accurate information on the laws they are voting on. They should be able to question the proponents and get unemotional accurate information. I would like our elected sheriff Furlong to tell me exactly why he is against this law and what should be done to fix it.
I see that Sierra Nevada Forums will be holding public sessions on all of the November initiatives. I urge all citizens to attend the Oct. 18 forum which will cover Question 1.
I believe that we need to have laws that assure us that gun owners are properly trained and are maintaining their gun skills. We do this with our car registration and driver licenses, don’t we?
We register our cars, and maintain insurance on the driver. We also have to renew our license to drive every few years and have to complete a quiz every few years to assure that we are knowledgeable about the rules of the road and complete a driver test if required. Why not gun owners?
I am still not sure on how to vote on this. I still have lots of questions. I see some cumbersome requirements in this law. However, I don’t see this law taking away second amendment rights. Law abiding, responsible citizens do have the right to own a gun. But it is my right to have laws that control to whom and how these guns are acquired and used safely just like a car.
Margaret Konieczny is a Carson City resident.