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Opinion: Laxalt Needs to Stand up for Nevada, Not the Gun Lobby

By Natalie Hernandez

In November of last year, Nevadans voted to make our state safer by voting yes on ballot Question 1, or The Background Check Initiative. So why don’t we have background checks now? We need not look further than Nevada’s top cop: Adam Laxalt.

What is Question 1, and how does it address gun violence?

2016’s Question 1 requires that private party gun transfers, with a few exceptions, be subject to a federal background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System administered by the FBI. Background checks in Nevada currently are done through the repository run by the Department of Public Safety, marking the state as one of a dozen with a “point-of-contact” designation.

The FBI sent a letter on December 14th to the state of Nevada’s Department of Public safety saying it would not be able to conduct these checks with the main reason being “the recent passage of the Nevada legislation regarding background checks for private sales cannot dictate how federal resources are applied” or in other words it would require additional staffing and resources to handle the work arising from Nevada’s expansion of background checks. Attorney General Adam Laxalt then issued a legal opinion on December 28 stating his refusal to implement what Nevadans voted for.

Why is Adam Laxalt standing in the way of public safety?

There are currently 18 other states doing what Nevada is trying to do with background checks.  

An estimated 22% of gun sales in Nevada occur through private transfers, either between strangers who have met online or at gun shows through unlicensed dealers. Without background checks, there is no way for a seller to determine if a buyer is legally allowed to purchase a gun. It is the job of Attorney General to work with the FBI to implement what Nevadans voted for.  

Adam Laxalt has vocally opposed the ballot initiative and appeared in commercials opposing background checks on all guns. Earlier this year, Laxalt even delivered a keynote speech at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Atlanta. He has refused to implement the laws Nevadans voted for because it would most likely go against the special interest groups that fund his campaigns. Laxalt has all but announced his run for Governor in 2018.

Nevadans voted to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.

A report by the Center for American Progress states that “Nevada is among the deadliest states for gun violence with a person dying from gun violence every 22 hours.” As a woman living in Nevada, the numbers are even worse, as the report also states that Nevada is ranked third-worst in the nation for gun homicide against women perpetrated by an intimate partner.  

Nevadans voted to close the loopholes still allowing dangerous people from accessing firearms. Laxalt has a responsibility to Nevadans to enforce the law of the land.

Natalie Hernandez is Battle Born Progress’ Northern Nevada gun violence prevention organizer.

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