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January 31, 2015

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Governor vetoes gun bill, says it would erode rights


Steve Marcus

Mark Heitz, of Tactical Firearms in Kingston, N.H., looks over a civilian version of the Colt M4 carbine during the annual SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show in the Sands Expo Center Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. Gun dealers at the show are reporting booming sales resulting from worries about possible gun control legislation. STEVE MARCUS

Updated Thursday, June 13, 2013 | 11:53 a.m.

2013 SHOT Show

Show attendees look over a display of weapons at the Leupold Tactical Optics booth during the annual SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show in the Sands Expo Center, Jan. 15, 2013. Launch slideshow »
Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Gov. Brian Sandoval has vetoed a bill requiring background checks for gun sales between private parties, saying it “imposes unreasonable burdens and harsh penalties upon law-abiding Nevadans, while doing little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms.”

In his veto message, the governor said background checks would “constitute an erosion of Nevadans’ Second Amendment rights under the United States Constitution and may subject otherwise law-abiding citizens to criminal prosecution.”

The bill, SB-221, was pushed by its sponsor, Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, who has said he was not surprised by the governor’s promise to veto the bill. He said that if Congress does not require universal background checks, he will push his legislation again in the 2015 Legislature.

Although it was no secret that Sandoval was going to veto Jones' bill, the veto message sparked the ire of progressive groups that had lobbied for its passage.

Repeating an oft-cited result of a poll showing 86 percent of Nevadans favor background checks for private party gun sales, critics said Sandoval has made an unpopular decision.

"Clearly Gov. Sandoval is going against the will of the people," said Brian Fadie, executive director of ProgressNow Nevada, a group that favored the bill's passage. "He is standing with extremists who are mostly filled with paranoid fears of the government taking away their guns."

Along with local groups like ProgressNow Nevada, the national coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns has been spending money advocating for the bill. With New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at its helm, the group has pledged to spend money during elections against officials such as Sandoval who oppose legislation mandating private-party background checks for gun sales.

Likewise, Fadie said his group will try to make this an election issue for Sandoval.

"It’s going to be about holding Brian Sandoval accountable for this veto," he said. "This was a very popular measure that most people get."

Sandoval said the bill had a number of worthy elements, including prohibiting the possession of guns by anyone judged mentally ill. He also applauded a section that required courts to speed up reporting of mental health adjudications.

From June 6 through Wednesday, Sandoval's received 152,995 calls opposing the gun bill and 27,465 in favor.

In his message, Sandoval also quoted from a letter from the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association that said mandatory background checks “on private sales place an unreasonable burden on law-abiding citizens, with the potential to make them criminals.”

“It would be unenforceable by law enforcement. It is our opinion this bill would do little to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals,” the letter stated.

Sandoval said the bill would have required a person wishing to sell a firearm to a family member request a background check through a federally licensed firearms dealer.

The bill “also introduces into Nevada law a change in the burden of proof associated with the prosecution of criminal action for the unlawful sale or disposal of a firearm,” Sandoval said.

Existing law requires “actual knowledge” by the seller that the buyer meets disqualifying conditions or is otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm. The proposed bill would have changed the burden of proof to “reasonable cause to believe,” potentially further exposing people to criminal prosecution.

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  1. "it "imposes unreasonable burdens and harsh penalties upon law-abiding Nevadans, while doing little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms."

    He did the right thing, though not entirely for all the right reasons. Nevada's Article 1, Section 11 is far more relevant to us than the federal Second Amendment.

    "...the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table." -- District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. (slip opinion at 64) (2008)

  2. Gov. Brian Sandoval did the right thing. Yes, there was some good parts to the Bill but when a Bill was introduced to add people judged mentally ill be reported so that they can't buy guns, the Democrats didn't go along. They wanted to follow their leader, New York City Mayor Bloomberg to punish all good citizens. Maybe the Democrats will learn, this is Nevada, not New York City.

  3. Good call Mr Sandoval.

  4. What a crock. But the NSA monitoring our phone calls and internet usage doesn't infringe on our rights. It's okay to require a license and insurance to drive a car, but not to require a background check to purchase a firearm through a private party sale. If you already have a blue card it doesn't even affect you.

    Too bad the governors office won't tell us how many numbers they were getting their 152,000 phone calls from. It was probably only 3,000 to 5,000 people at best.

  5. or rather if you already have a valid blue card, a background check should not be required.

  6. Good comments from the bimmer dude...

    "at a gun store a criminal can't buy a gun without a background check"...
    "But a private sale to someone you don't even know and who may likely be a criminal avoiding the guns store .... "does little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms"?

    "Gotta love the illogic that people come up with defending this"...


  7. This phone poll was used?

    "Those who still want to make their views on the bill known to Sandoval can call 775-684-5670. After listening to a message about "voting," they need only press 1 to support the bill, or two to oppose it.

    The poll is hardly scientific. A Review-Journal reporter checking on how the system works voted yes twice, and voted no twice. No background is required from respondents, who don't have to live in Nevada. And they can vote as many times as they want."

  8. On Oct 20 last year, I did two things Obama and Dirty Harry would disapprove of: I bought another gun, then went and voted for Romney. Guess what??? I took and passed a background check at the gun show, and it was registered with Metro before delivery- Stop complaining that no one is getting background checks at shows and start worrying how many are changing hands in alleys at midnight in North Vegas.

  9. The Governor just locked in my vote... forever.

    Thank You, Governor Sandoval. I won't forget.

  10. The lame excuses Governor Sandoval made to veto this background check bill stretch the imagination. And this coming from a man who is a lawyer. His excuse for the veto were constructed by the NRA and the gun manufacturer lobby, not common sense and not even the U.S. Constitution.

    His use of some dumb telephone poll is laughable. After the bill passed our State Legislators, he scrambled to create his own doctored poll to give him a reason to veto the bill.

    Because he didn't like what the poll from last February said. Overall, just about 86 percent of Nevadans wanted background checks. Even broken down, it showed for voters over 80 percent for progressives, over 80 percent for moderate, and 78 percent for conservatives...all wanting him to sign this into law.

    Sandoval is in the pockets of the NRA. And he can't abide by legitimate polls. So he skews the polls and makes his own.

    And, get this, he uses taxpayer money to set up this phone hotline poll!

    Lastly, Governor Sandoval said he would veto this bill TODAY. On Friday.

    But he didn't.

    He did it yesterday. Thursday.


    Because today, Friday, June 14, 2013, is the six month anniversary of the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

    Governor Sandoval knew if he waited and vetoed it today, it would be a genuine slap in the face of not only the people who lost loved ones in that mindless gun massacre, but to everyone who has faced gun violence.

    I am mobilizing my entire neighborhood to vote Governor Sandoval out. Because he simply doesn't worry about a passing grade from his constituents. Only the NRA.

    One And Done Sandoval. He's got to go.

    By vetoing this common sense background check State gun legislation, he shows he sides with the straw buyers, the middle men and the criminals they sell guns to.

    Sandoval is a bum. He is more interested in money than he is in doing the right thing for Nevada.

  11. THANK YOU BRIAN SANDOVAL! You can ignore J. Patrick Coolican and his political ramblings! We the people of Nevada stand behind you!!! Now lets move on to removing handgun registration in Clark County!!!!

  12. Thank You Governor Sandoval! It's refreshing to see a glimmer of hope from a leader that believes in common sense, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. True Patriots of this country support your decision 100%. The anti-gun nuts that suffer from hoplophobia just dont get it.

  13. "Jeff from CA"

    What a load of hyperbole, please go back to Cali and spew your rhetoric.

  14. When making up rules/laws in life, you have to stop and ask, "Is the rule/law enforceable?" This particular gun bill was clearly NOT enforceable. The governor DID make the right call, qualifying his decision with, "It would be unenforceable by law enforcement. It is our opinion this bill would do little to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals," the letter stated.

    Lawmakers need to carefully craft a bill that takes into consideration all the possible plusses and minuses, and come forward with a sound proposal that does not infringe upon the rights of law abiding, sane, qualifying citizens. Thank you.

    Blessings and Peace,

  15. INALIENABLE rights means those rights cannot be restricted by majority vote.

  16. Private party gun sales are an excellent path for terrorist groups in the US to store up weapons and ammunition at a slow, steady pace at competitive economic rates without detection.

    Gun traffickers will now have a State Apart from civilization all around to which they can enter, buy weapons easily, play a game of cards, visit a strip club and then return and exchange their guns for cash to other criminal elements.

    Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for Law abiding citizens and their families who ran afoul of these criminals would be terminated to protect the right of secret gun sales.

    Only a State Apart with a Governor that has high morals and faith in a god of sorts could provide such rights.

  17. Yep SunJon, a law requiring that people who sell guns to criminals (already a felony level Federal crime to transfer ownership of a gun to anyone not legally allowed to own/possess a gun) do administrative paperwork first is going to prevent criminals from getting guns.

    Yep, just like how drug dealers are all getting out of the business because the state might go after them for not collecting sales tax on drug sales.

    Those who supported this law all screamed about how this law would reduce gun violence and gun deaths....but not a single one of them can point to any actual data to support that claim. None of them can point to a jurisdiction in the US or in a foreign country where gun violence or gun deaths were reduced because of a similar law.