Like many people, I hope to reach the end of my life having seen and accomplished everything I wanted to. For people like Christina Franklin, that goal was cut short by a preventable tragedy.
This past May in Las Vegas, Christina was dropping her two kids off at daycare when she was confronted by her ex with a gun. He shot Christina, both of their children and himself. Christina had pressed charges against him in the past and had a protective order against him — something that would have prevented her killer from purchasing a gun from a licensed dealer. However, he was able to get the gun without a background check from a private seller, no questions.
Christina’s children survived, but will now grow up without a mother. This kind of tragedy has become all too common in our country. Every day for 91 Americans the hope of a full life is lost when they are killed in acts of gun violence.
Currently, Nevada law only requires licensed gun dealers to conduct criminal background checks. Criminals can shop online and at gun shows where private sellers are able to hand over a gun without any questions asked.
We have the opportunity to close the loophole this November by voting yes on Question 1, the Background Check Initiative. This is a common sense, responsible measure that will save lives. Our right to bear arms comes a responsibility to use our guns safely. Question 1 will level the playing field and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. That’s it.
Question 1 allows for a broad range of exceptions such as family transfers, hunting and self-defense. This is not a gun grab. This is not a registry. Question 1 will only expand the same law that
licensed dealers have been abiding by since 1998. Nobody wants to sell a gun to a prohibited person
who may do harm to themselves or others.
Much of the NRA-backed opposition to Question 1 challenges that the law will inconvenience “law-abiding gun owners.” Such avid gun owners should understand that the “burden” that requires gun owners to act responsibly comes along with their right to carry. Most background checks take less than two minutes to complete and 97 percent of Nevadans live within 10 miles of a licensed dealer. The lives that background checks will save are far more important than any minor “inconvenience” that the law might bring.
We know that background checks work. In states that have passed similar laws, there have been 48 percent fewer police officers shot and killed with guns, 46 percent fewer women murdered by their partners using a gun and 48 percent fewer gun suicides.
In Nevada, gun deaths exceed motor vehicle-related deaths. We have the fifth highest gun suicide rate in the nation. Women in Nevada are six times more likely to be shot to death by an intimate partner. The facts speak for themselves. Gun violence prevention is a no-brainer.
I became involved with the Background Check Initiative just five months ago and I have gotten to meet members of our own community whose family members have been murdered in preventable tragedies. When my uncle took his own life with a gun, I saw first hand the dark cloud preventable gun violence brings to the lives of the families left behind.
I know that one law will not prevent every tragedy but it can help save lives. Question 1 is simple, but the consequences of not passing it are personal. We cannot afford to lose more lives by the hand of someone who should not have a gun.
We can’t afford more tragedy.
Please take the time to read the initiative yourself and join me in voting YES on Question 1.
Lila Reeves-Hampton studies journalism and is a volunteer intern for Nevadans for Background Checks. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.