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March 3, 2015

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Bill to expand background checks for gun purchases passes Nevada Senate

In a party line vote following an emotional floor debate, the Nevada Senate today passed a measure that would expand background check requirements to private party firearm sales.

Senators on both sides of the issue recounted stories of family members killed by a gun as they argued the merits of closing the background check loophole. A cadre of survivors and family members of victims in the recent spate of mass shootings from around the country sat in the Senate gallery to witness the vote.

"My dad was my best friend," Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, said, remembering the morning in 1990 when his mother called to tell him his father had been murdered. "I’ll never fotget that day. It was 5:06 in the morning."

He then voted in favor of Senate Bill 221, which would require private parties to go to a federally licensed gun dealer to run a background check before conducting their gun sales.

But Atkinson isn't the only senator whose father died from a gun shot.

His voice going soft with emotion, Sen. James Settelmeyer, a rancher and a conservative Republican, acknowledged his father, too, was killed by a gun.

"My dad did die at the hand of a gun, but I don’t blame the gun," he said prior to voting against the measure.

All 11 Democrats voted in favor of the bill, while all 10 Republicans opposed it.

Before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, had sought to amend the bill to eliminate the background check requirement. Instead, he wanted a law that would encourage voluntary background checks by waiving the state fee for such checks and providing immunity from liability for those who conducted a background check prior to selling a gun. Roberson's bill also would have created a legislative study on the issue and would have made straw purchases illegal under state law.

Federal law already prohibits an individual from buying a gun for someone who wouldn't be eligible to own it.

The amendment failed in a party line vote.

Republicans called the bill over broad and an infringement on 2nd Amendment rights, worrying that the government would be given too much information on firearms owned by Nevadans.

"The government has no business knowing what guns you own," said Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas. "We can’t keep the federal government and state government out of our personal lives and our tax records. This concerns me that we would give the government more and more information about our gun purchases."

But Democrats, harkening back to the harrowing mass shootings in Tucson, AZ; Newtown, CT; and even the mass shooting that killed three national guard members at an IHOP in Carson City, argued the bill did not infringe on gun owners rights.

"This doesn’t hurt us," said Sen. Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, who comes from a family of avid hunters and owns a variety of guns. "This is not about hurting anyone’s rights. This is about an attempt to keep guns out of the wrong hands."

The bill now heads to the Assembly.

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  1. This type of law would not have stopped any of the shootings they have mentioned. They are running on emotion rather than common sense.

    In case they haven't noticed, criminals and killers don't follow the law.

  2. Most of the stories told should be inconsequential with regard to this law. This is like passing a new drunk driving law because your relative was killed in a speeding accident. To the do something, anything, even if it doesn't work just to make us feel better folks this is their mothers milk.

    Otherwise, did the bill pass on the merits of what it will accomplish or just on emotion.

  3. Vegaslee is correct , but at least it makes them feel like they made a big difference and they can walk around with a halo over them in thier little worlds.

  4. My letter to Senator Heller on this subject

    Senator Heller
    324 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510

    SUBJECT: Thank You

    Honorable Dean Heller,

    Thank you for standing against the Liberals as they pushed to introduce new and oppressive background checks in the U.S. Senate which would have allowed Senator Feinstein to reintroduce her expanded bill that would have banned nearly every firearm in America. Your constituents called you, and you supported our calls.

    We understand the attacks are continuing with Mayor Bloomberg of New York running TV ads here in Nevada to put you on the defense--it will be nothing less than shameful if a single Nevada resident, Republican or Democrat, is influenced by this New Yorker who also pines to ban Big Gulps and French Fries. Now we have to do it again at the state level and keep New York out of Nevada.

    Continue to do what you are doing--a great job.

  5. Dean Heller voted to approved the sales of guns to unknown numbers of thieves, thugs, murderers and the criminally insane. Crime boosts the Government spending and employment in law enforcement necessary to counter act the problems.

    Thus, Government spending is how Dean Heller puts people to work. This requires new taxes to pay for the new prisons, attorneys, judges and police to deal with the stimulated criminal activity.

    Good going Dean. Increase and divert taxes to prisons and policing while creating more paranoia at the street level. His true religious value systems are very apparent.

  6. @Jon Becker, Do you have any proof for anything you just pontificated, or are you using Harry Reid's techniques? Make stuff up on the fly and hope people believe it.