Editorial: Most sheriffs and the governor oppose gun background check initiative

Three out of four Nevada county sheriffs agree, Question 1 on the November ballot, the Nevada Background Checks for Gun Purchases Initiative, should be voted down, because it will do nothing to prevent gun violence, will be too costly and merely put honest people in jeopardy of running afoul of a nitpicking law.

The National Rifle Association reports opposition to Question 1 has been announced by Sheriff Ken Furlong (Carson City), Sheriff Ben Trotter (Churchill County), Sheriff Ron Pierini (Douglas County), Sheriff Jim Pitts (Elko County), Sheriff Keith Logan (Eureka County), Sheriff Ron Unger (Lander County), Sheriff Kerry Lee (Lincoln County), Sheriff Al McNeil (Lyon County), Sheriff Sharon Wehrly (Nye County), Sheriff Gerald Antinoro (Storey County), Sheriff Chuck Allen (Washoe County) and Sheriff Mike Allen (Humboldt County).

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo has chosen to remain neutral and others are silent on the matter.

Most recently, Gov. Brian Sandoval has added his voice to the opposition. “The governor does not support Question 1. He has concerns that this measure would dilute the legitimate rights of law-abiding Nevadans and that it does not actually address the complex issue of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals,” said Mari St. Martin, a spokeswoman for the governor.

St. Martin has noted that existing law already prohibits a person from selling or giving a firearm or ammunition to another person if he or she has actual knowledge that the other person is under indictment for or has been convicted of a felony, is a fugitive from justice, has been found mentally ill or is in the country illegally.

Question 1 would require “universal” background checks and require law enforcement to scrutinize virtually every gun sale or transfer. It is being pushed by Nevadans for Background Checks, which is funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety. It would require most gun transfers to be conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer.

A summary of the measure reads in part: “This initiative requires that an unlicensed person who wishes to sell or transfer a firearm to another person conduct the transfer through a licensed gun dealer who runs a background check on the potential buyer or transferee. A licensed dealer may charge a reasonable fee for this service.”

Elko County Sheriff Jim Pitts has been quoted as saying, “This is for one thing a law that we can’t enforce. There’s no way of enforcing this. Only the citizens who follow the law are going to be the ones who follow it, and the ones that are the criminals aren’t going to follow it anyway. How are we going to follow it up?”

Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen said Question 1 infringes upon the Second Amendment and “will do absolutely nothing to stop criminals while criminalizing the commonplace activities of many Nevada gun owners.”

Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong has said, “Any bill that does not address mental health, which I believe to be the core cause of the violence we’ve had across the country, does not meet my expectations.”

Sheriff Sharon Wehrly in Nye County has said, “It merely places more restrictions on good people, will make it more difficult, and incur unnecessary costs for law-abiding citizens to manage their personal property.”

A recent survey conducted by Las Vegas television station KTNV in conjunction with Rasmussen Reports found that 65 percent of those polled support the background checks initiative and only 28 percent opposed it with 7 percent undecided.

Perhaps the majority of sheriffs and the governor can help persuade the voters that one more unenforceable law on the books will just add to the regulatory burden and cost and do nothing to increase safety.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.


45 comments on “Editorial: Most sheriffs and the governor oppose gun background check initiative

  1. Steve says:

    And the left screeches:

    “But, BUT! we JUST HAVE to do SOMETHING!!! If it stops even ONE death it’s WORTH ALL the time and effort!!!”

    As unenforceable as it is, just how does any supporter claim to know what the effects of such a law are?
    Oh, yes, “studies” done by their friends in university buildings.

  2. Rincon says:

    Conservatives refuse to address the fact that we are far more violent than a long list of other countries. I would only vote for gun control in the absence of an alternative, but that seems to be the case.

  3. Dan Watts says:

    As Sheriff of White Pine County I oppose these background checks, what needs to happen is address the mental health issues and enforce the laws that are already in the books.

    Dan Watts, Sheriff
    White Pine County

  4. Patrick says:

    I wonder Mr. Watts what proposals you might have to address the mental health issues that would likely be supported by those who oppose this bill?

    Seems to me, tha many of the same people opposing this bill, oppose the spending that would be necessary to address the mental health issues which results in neither this bill be passed (if it were up to these people) and nothing being done with regard to the mental health issues.

  5. Patrick says:

    Another great move by the Justice Department. The imposition of bail in state courts, too high to allow low income and indigent accused to make bail, is another method used by those more interested in incarcerating prisoners in private prisons so the jailers can get rich, rather than in any interests of “justice”.

    That’s two bits of far overdue action by this administration in one week; it took too long but better late than never.


  6. Steve says:

    When all else fails, Patrick, read what the Sheriff posted.

    Unless, as I suspect, you simply cannot see the forest.

  7. Winston Smith says:

    And now for something completely different, an ad hominem attack: “Bloomberg can shove his 32 oz. tyranny up his ass.” 🙂

  8. Nyp says:

    So should we abolish background checks for people who purchase guns from licensed gun dealers?

  9. Rincon says:

    You won’t get an answer, nyp. They won’t admit that the present background checks are worthwhile, but hesitate to advocate letting every nut case and ex con buy guns and ammo unrestricted.

  10. Nyp says:

    The usual revealing silence

  11. Steve says:

    Nyp’s deflection is a red herring, Rincon. But you knew that.

  12. Nyp says:

    should we abolish background checks for people who purchase guns from licensed gun dealers?

  13. Steve says:

    Not the question you should be asking, nyp.

    Background checks in established stores work, just like checking ID’s in liquor stores works at preventing sales to minors.

    The question is, do the proposals in Q1 have a snowballs chance in hell of achieving their stated goals?

    As you can see, a lot of LE’s state this is not the case, Q1 is wasted effort. For instance, just how do you expect to see to it all transactions are completed under this law? Are you going to appoint a cop to each and every citizen, 24/7?

    Like most people, I agree something needs to be done in this arena, but Q1 doesn’t achieve any of it.

  14. Steve says:

    Almost forgot.

    Nice try at deflection, nyp.

  15. Nyp says:

    By the same token, that is why we don’t bother to regulate internet or person-to-person sales of narcotics or prescription drugs.

  16. Steve says:

    Oh, nyp? those activities aren’t outlawed? What about reselling, or straw purchasing liquor? No law against that either?
    Or those laws against transferring weapns to known felons currently as unenforceable as the rest?

    Maybe we need to enact an every town for sobriety law? Assign a cop to every single child, 24/7?

    Where you planning on getting all those cops, nyp?

    Never mind, you peeps just need to have a “feel good” law every once in a while, no harm done cuz it won’t change a thing anyway….except to make a whole segment of American society a totally new form of criminal.
    I suppose that is needed with federal prison populations dropping to the point we no longer find it financially beneficial to keep outsourcing prison facilities.
    Time to create a whole bunch of new crimes, huh?

  17. Rincon says:

    Glad to see that we agree on background checks fro guns purchased through licensed dealers. While forcing a license on everyone who sells or gives a gun to another may be a bit much, it would actually work if there were different classes of gun dealers and if the smallest of “dealers” could apply easily at low cost – probably not real likely.

    At the same time, allowing transfers to take place willy nilly reminds me of an ad I saw in Mad Magazine (required reading for the politically perceptive). They had 38 caliber pistols for sale, explaining that, because they were collector’s items, they had removed the firing pins to render them safe and make them legal. Naturally, the ad just beneath said in bold print: “Firing pins – $5.00.”

  18. Steve says:

    willy nilly?

    It is currently illegal to sell weapons to known felons….just like it’s illegal to buy booze and sell it to minors.

    Q1 is a useless waste of time, all it does is make a whole segment of society a new criminal element while leaving the current criminal element totally unscathed.

  19. Winston Smith says:

    “The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” – Ayn Rand

  20. Patrick says:

    “I do not believe smoking causes cancer, in fact cancer is instead a character flaw.”

    -paraphrasing Ayn Rand prior to her death, after receiving care provided by the government, from lung cancer, after years of smoking heavily.

  21. Steve says:

    Add another to the tool box of deception.

    She had heart disease, it’s what killed Ayn Rand, not cancer.

  22. Rincon says:

    “It is currently illegal to sell weapons to known felons” So how does someone selling at a gun show know if he’s dealing with a felon?

  23. Steve says:

    How does someone selling booze outside the store know its a minor?

    Buuut, if your issue is with gun shows….then offer up a law specific to gun shows.

    Say, something like all serial numbers offered for sale by a private owner be recorded and tied to an ID belonging to the buyer.
    Then that data stored LOCALLY, by the LOCAL sheriff’s dept. Totally constitutional and not at all impacting on either the buyer or seller. But this only makes sense if the real intent is to close the “gun show loophole”. It’s blatantly obvious the “gun show loophole” is only a convenient red herring.

    OR you guys could go for the gold and try banning all private sales at gun shows, driving them underground……oh wait, that’s the main result if Q1 does pass and become law.

  24. Rincon says:

    My earlier statement: “While forcing a license on everyone who sells or gives a gun to another may be a bit much, it would actually work if there were different classes of gun dealers and if the smallest of “dealers” could apply easily at low cost – probably not real likely.” I acknowledged that the proposed law is flawed and perhaps should not be passed. If I didn’t then, I do now.

    I think we are closer to agreement than we realize. Your idea of recording the information from a sale is reasonable, a form of after-the-sale background check. While trickier for government to manage and a little porous, it’s a reasonable compromise if done correctly.

  25. Winston Smith says:

    You’re right, patrick, the fact that I’ve been paying into Social Security since I was 17 negates anything I say about liberty and the evils of Big Government. So sorry…


  26. Steve says:

    All law enforcement is after the fact. Trying to prevent everything only takes away liberty.
    At some point it takes morals in the individual to really prevent things unwanted and distasteful.
    Unfortunately, legislating morality is impossible. Unless we want a cop assigned to each and everyone of us 24/7 from birth to death.

  27. Rincon says:

    Since laws against murder, assault, rape, theft and a whole host of other things are from legislating morality, are you of the belief that these laws are useless or “impossible”?

  28. Patrick says:

    Funny that conservatives argue that taxing something results I less of that thing, but when it comes to another form of taxing; I.e. “Criminalizing” things, they argue that it won’t reduce the thing that being criminalied.

    I thoght people were “rational beings”?

  29. Patrick says:

    And Winston the point wasn’t that Rand was a hypocrite for taing advantage of programs she called immoral, it was that, a person so dumb as to refuse to acknowledge smoking caused lung cancer, could hardly have much credibility regarding the other things she babbled about.

  30. Steve says:

    Since laws against murder exist, murders don’t happen? These laws prevent them?

    All law enforcement is after the fact.

    When proposing law, the effects and potential for achieving the stated goals must be considered.
    The price of perfection is very high. Q1 has a price tag in the stratosphere. And it will never approach achieving stated goals.
    No matter how much you guys want to change the subject to murder.

  31. Patrick says:

    Since taxes on nearly everything exists, and those things exist, how do conservatives claim that by taxing something the result is fewer of that something?

  32. Steve says:

    All law enforcement is after the fact.

    No matter how much you want to change the subject to taxes.

  33. Patrick says:

    All taxes happen after the fact of passing a law imposing taxes.

  34. Steve says:

    True and irrelevant.



  35. Patrick says:

    I feel sorry for you.

  36. Steve says:

    You are a funny….sad person.

  37. Winston Smith says:

    Oh, I forgot, if someone has an outlier opinion on a particular subject, that makes everything they say about anything else illegitimate…

  38. Rincon says:

    “All law enforcement is after the fact.” So what?

  39. Steve says:

    Q1, as you acknowledge, is bad law. The activity it tries to prevent is not possible to enforce. Even if it does pass, none of the transfers that take place outside it’s new lines will ever be discovered.
    So everything being thrown around about murder and the other red herrings, is irrelevant. All law enforcement happens after the fact.

  40. Patrick says:

    “Outlier?” That smoking causes lung cancer?

    No, what this is, is stupidity of the worst kind. But it is on KEEPNG with the rest of Alice’s philosophy. So, since the rest of it is stupid, I suppose her irrational opinion about the tie between smoking and lung cancer is…no worse?

  41. Rincon says:

    Q1 appears to be a bad law, we agree, but saying that trying to prevent something only takes away liberty is inaccurate in the extreme.

  42. Steve says:

    You didn’t read what I said.

    The price of perfection is very high, there must be a balance to prevention vs reaction.

  43. Rincon says:

    Fair enough.

  44. Steve says:

    Thanks for “listening” in a written medium!

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