by Christen Smith
Nevadans for Background Checks — the state surrogate for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s arsenal of gun control groups — released a new commercial Tuesday urging voters to support Question 1 in November.
“The law requires criminal background checks in gun stores; why don’t we require them online?” said retired Clark County Senior Deputy Sheriff Jim Childs in the ad. “A few clicks of a mouse and now a bad guy is armed and potentially dangerous. As someone in law enforcement, I think that’s dangerous.”
Question 1 would require background checks on most private sales and transfers of firearms in the state of Nevada, closing the so-called “loopholes” found at gun shows and online allowing dangerous people to buy firearms.
The initiative draws support from Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, several retired Las Vegas law enforcement officials and even Paul Larsen, a National Rifle Association member who appearaed in an ad for Nevadans for Background Checks last month.
“Law enforcement supports our campaign because they know that right now it is far too easy for dangerous people to get guns from total strangers they connect with through these online marketplaces because background checks are not required,” said Joe Duffy, the group’s campaign manager. “Passing Question 1 and closing the loophole will shut down an avenue that we know criminals are using to avoid background checks and get guns.”
Jennifer Crowe, spokeswoman for Nevadans for Background checks, said in states where Question 1-style laws have already passed, 48 percent fewer gun-related deaths for law enforcement and 46 percent fewer women shot by their intimate partners have been reported.
She and Wolfson appeared on a PBS Las Vegas round table discussion with Mitch Fox on Monday in support of the ballot measure. Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony and NRA-Nevadans for Freedom Deputy Director Ryan Hamilton spoke against Question 1 on the program.
“We know today that people are getting weapons, not subjecting themselves to that legal process and we also know today that people who don’t subject themselves to that legal process are the people who are committing the crimes,” Hamilton said. “This is absolutely an exercise in futility.”
The NRA leads the campaign against Question 1 and has released a wave of attack ads against the initiative, insisting it will only infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, not criminals. In July, 16 out of 17 Nevada sheriffs came out against Question 1 as burdensome and unenforceable.
“This is really an attack on the Second Amendment,” Anthony said. “That’s what the Bloomberg initiative is all about is to eliminate all firearms in this country and they do it one step at a time. All it does is hassle people who already have a firearm.”
Hamilton also criticized the statistics touted by Crowe and others promising lower rates of gun violence in the wake of expanded background check laws, saying “there is no causation between Question 1 style laws and reductions in gun violence.”
Crowe and Wolfson agree the law wouldn’t stop all criminals, but would be worth the lives it does save.
“It won’t prevent every crime or stop every tragedy, but we know that it will make it harder for criminals to get guns,” Crowe said.
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