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January 31, 2015

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Political Memo:

Gun rights could become issue in Heller-Berkley race

Gun rights legislation set off a donnybrook between lawmakers during the 2011 session.

But the debate didn’t focus on the substance of the bill to expand Nevadans’ right to bear arms. Rather, a state senator and the speaker of the Assembly both wanted credit for the legislation and traded heated statements over who was the most fervent supporter of those rights.

The fact that both were Democrats was, in pro-gun Nevada, not surprising.

In Nevada politics, being pro-gun is almost a given. You’re either for the Second Amendment or really, really for the Second Amendment.

Anything with the slightest scent of gun control is the third rail of Nevada politics.

The recent controversy over the nomination to the federal bench of District Court Judge Elissa Cadish has underscored that fact while also threatening to inject the issue into the race for U.S. Senate, where Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Las Vegas, is challenging Republican Sen. Dean Heller.

Heller put a hold on Cadish’s nomination over her answer on a 2008 candidate questionnaire, first reported by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston.

She was asked by a conservative group: “Do you believe the individual citizen has a constitutional right to keep and bear arms?

“I do not believe this is a constitutional right,” she wrote in response. “Thus, I believe that reasonable restrictions may be imposed on gun ownership in the interest of public safety. Of course, I will enforce the laws as they exist as a judge.”

Cadish released a statement saying she was offering her personal opinion based on the legal standard at the time. (Later in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down some gun control laws, finding that the Second Amendment did extend the right to bear arms to individual citizens.)

Still, Heller’s hold on Cadish remains, which means, by Senate custom, her nomination will not move forward.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who recommended Cadish, has not asked her to withdraw, Ralston reported.

Given it’s her opponent taking this stand, that leaves the issue dangling there for Berkley.

Her response has been to remain neutral.

“Judge Cadish is a personal friend of Congresswoman Berkley, who deeply respects her judicial ability and service,” the Democratic party said in a statement. “However, it would not be appropriate for Congresswoman Berkley to weigh in on a pending judicial nomination without all the information afforded to a sitting senator.”

Asked to clarify her position on Cadish at a Reno campaign event Thursday, Berkley pointed to that statement and noted that she said she supports the Second Amendment.

Asked whether she thinks the Second Amendment extends to individuals, she said, “I think the Supreme Court has decided that.”

So far, Heller has declined to press Berkley on this issue. His campaign declined to comment for this story.

So Berkley’s opaque position on Cadish’s nomination remains open to interpretation.

Take, for example, the read from Don Turner, president of the Nevada Firearms Coalition, which is the NRA affiliate in Nevada, which has 36,000 members in the state.

Turner said he is “very pleased” with Heller’s opposition to the Cadish nomination.

Asked about Berkley, he noted she was a co-sponsor, with Reid and former Sen. John Ensign, of legislation that transferred 2,900 acres of federal land to Clark County for a shooting park.

“She comes across to the gun community as pro-Constitution, at least as far as the Second Amendment is concerned,” Turner said.

Unless, that is, Heller tries to make political hay of Cadish.

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  1. It is a sad commentary on politics when this tired old saw about gun rights is trotted out during every political campaign, nationwide. With far more important issues confronting the electorate in November, the 2nd amendment should not be an issue for either senate candidate. Let's hear some thoughtful dialog on jobs, the economy and other issues that matter to the majority. Current laws on the books regarding gun rights are not being threatened. Let's move on to more important matters.

  2. The saddest commentary of all is the reporter's decision to try to make Cadish a campaign issue with no comments from anyone in the Heller camp. Who's drumming up the issue? The fact of the matter is that the gun lobby does try to create wedge issues each election year. That's why this year we've got the horrendous National Concealed Carry Act. That would get rid of Nevada's ability to determine who should be able to carry here.
    That's a real gun issue. Nevada has recently rejected reciprocity for concealed carry from Florida. And recent events are telling. Imagine George Zimmerman "patrolling" in Las Vegas with his concealed carry.

  3. "In Nevada politics, being pro-gun is almost a given. You're either for the Second Amendment or really, really for the Second Amendment. Anything with the slightest scent of gun control is the third rail of Nevada politics."

    Schwartz -- you really should educate yourself on this issue. The Second Amendment isn't nearly as relevant here as our own Article 1, Section 11. Check it out @

    Only on failure of our state Constitution's protections does the federal Bill of Rights apply.

    "Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes." ... The phrase "other lawful purposes" gives the Legislature the authority to expand the lawful purposes for which a citizen may keep and bear arms, but it does not authorize the Legislature to diminish them. Any other reading would reduce the constitutional guarantee to nothing more than what the Legislature permits, making it meaningless. This "simply cannot be correct..." -- Nevada Supreme Court in Pohlabel v. the State of Nevada, 01/26/2012

  4. All well said, the question is, why do we have to belong to a club (NRA) to own a gun??

  5. To Urbano Ornelas: there are no laws, policies, or regulations stating you MUST belong to a club, as NRA, to own a gun. Where did you get that idea?

    Blessings and Peace,

  6. don't and your comment is a bizarre statement.

    Ignorance is bliss (I guess)

    This is a losing subject for the anti gunners who have no history, law or the constitution on their side.

    I can see how Mr. Lind now wants to quiet this subject. Where gun control is concerned, the proponents of unconstitutional control are simply shooting blanks.

    HOWEVER, I agree with Mr. Lind the sickening job situation needs to be addressed and not with the fake statistics we have seen from the Administration.

    I am deeply disappointed in both partys at this point. The cost of living is soaring and the only response is to have the Washington crowd try to misdirect the situation.

    The congress needs to suck it up and do something NOW to enhance the energy flow and to aid the refineries that are so important to that supply. An enhanced flow and refinery output would go a long way to repairing the economy.

    The Congress needs to do something NOW to stop the suicidal spending spree. You cannot tax and spend yourself into prosperity. You can destroy the economy with taxes so the country cannot recover.

  7. The left always confuses behavior with the instrument used to help achieve the wrong. We have tons of laws on the books intended to give law enforcement and the courts the means to enforce the laws when they are broken. The left again often confuses the issues choosing methods of prevention that violate personal freedoms and fail to achieve their desired results with enforcement which is by its nature, is after the fact.

    And that is exactly why our founding fathers repeatedly and in many venues and forms stressed the individual right to bear arms as a natural right not given by government. The right to protect oneself against predation whether by an individual or government has to by its very nature be a natural right that cannot be taken away by government. If that were the case, we could not have claimed independence based on the grievances committed against us and fought for our freedom. If that were the case and rights come from government we would be indentured servants at best to t his day, which is where we are headed under the current administration. Their idea of America is an all powerful central government that can tell you what to eat, where to live and work, what to drive and how you will get your health care.
    We prosecute violations of laws (behaviors) after they occur and insist that intent as a cornerstone of our legal system. Otherwise, we could arrest and incarcerate anyone and everyone for anything and everything based on mere thoughts or statements in or out of context.

    This woman should not be confirmed for the bench as she is by her own admission disingenuous and a hypocrite. It has become routine for candidates of both parties to simply either deny or claim a change of mind on any previous statements or rulings that would cause them to be disqualified for office. It is easy to say that one would follow the law when everything in your background indicates otherwise. How can one disprove something that hasn''t happend yet? That is why it is imperitive to place high value on the past conduct and statements made by nominees rather than only on what they say to get the job.

    Mr or Mrs so and so, Justice so and so, would you or would you not enforce the laws as they are written? Oh heck no. I would not. Didn't you hear my statement that I don't believe that this or that is an individual right? I don't care about Roe vs Wade, I'll legislate my beliefs from the bench or put you in jail for gun ownership.

    Right! Offer me a once in a lifetime opportunity that will set me up for life and make me one of the elite jurists in the country and maybe history and then ask me to tell you I don't intend to follow what you are asking me about. I'll pass on the appointment, you're waisting your time with these questions, I'll do as I please after I'm on the bench.

    Uh huh...