America has a gun problem. It’s not a question anymore. There have been more than 43,000 incidents of gun violence this year alone, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. In the last ten months alone, 11,000 have died from those incidents of gun violence.
This is not an issue that can be brushed aside any longer. Solving gun violence must be a central issue to the upcoming election, and here in Nevada we have the opportunity to make progress toward that goal in the form of ballot Question 1.
The exact text of the question is as follows:
“Shall Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to prohibit, except in certain circumstances, a person from selling or transferring a firearm to another person unless a federally-licensed dealer first conducts a federal background check on the potential buyer or transferee?”
Let’s break that down a bit.
First, Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes is just the section of the NRS that deals with “crimes against public health and safety,” and includes laws ranging from the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act (which banned smoking in public indoor spaces in 2006) to the regulation of weapons in the state.
Second, Question 1 addresses the so-called “gun show loophole.” This loophole allows guns to be bought and sold at gun shows without a federal background check. While most gun owners are perfectly law-abiding trustworthy, the absence of a background check removes the safety net that could catch those who intend to do harm.
By closing the loophole, Question 1 removes the uncertainty and re-applies the background-check safety net to where it should have been all along. However, there is still more to be done when it comes to ending the epidemic of mass shootings in America.
An analysis from The New York Times found that the firearms used to perpetrate some of the most high-profile shootings in recent history — including the San Bernardino and Orlando shootings — were overwhelmingly purchased legally.
In this vein, opponents of the measure claim that it will do nothing to stop the illegal acquisition of guns by criminals. The NRA cites a stat from the Department of Justice that claims 77 percent of criminals in state prisons for gun-related crimes obtained those guns through means other than gun shows or online stores.
But just because most guns aren’t obtained through gun shows doesn’t mean the gun show loophole shouldn’t be closed. Just because it won’t solve America’s gun problem in full doesn’t mean that we should abandon trying to solve it at all.
Opponents also argue that it’s a government overreach that will turn everyday gun owners into criminals if they try and lend their weapons to a friend or family member. These characterizations are misleading, false and do nothing but ignore what Question 1 is trying to fix.
Under the measure, police officers, security guards, active duty military and federal agents are exempt. Family members are exempt. Those selling antique firearms or trustees or executors of estates are exempt. There are also exemptions built in for temporary gun trades. If you’re at a firing range, shooting competition, or even hunting, you’re exempt.
At the end of the day, we must try something. Even with the CDC’s ban on gun-related research, there are plenty of studies that show states with more guns are more dangerous. Any dent in the number of illegal guns in Nevada is crucial to the public well being. Question 1 must be passed.
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