Yesterday SB 143 - Nevada’s background check bill that LEAP Forward has been tracking and grading - was heard in and passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee after a hearing local media almost universally referred to as “contentious.” High-ranking state officials testified in favor of the legislation: From KTVN:
Nevada's Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, told lawmakers the bill is a priority to him and looks forward to signing it into law if it's brought to his desk. He says gun violence is not an easy issue to solve, but most state residents support gun background checks.
State Attorney General Aaron Ford also spoke in support of the legislation. He says requiring background checks on private gun sales are particularly important due to the online gun market.
The bill is a logical extension of something voters already approve of at the polls in 2016 when they voted in favor of Question 1, a background check initiative that ran into some jurisdictional issues and was never fully enforced. Instead of putting the onus on the federal government, SB 143 makes background checks the responsibility of the state. From Patrick Walker, Las Vegas Now:
"If we, as law-abiding sellers, know we have to conduct a background check, it will be much harder for the person to leave the dealer and find a way to buy a gun without a background check," said William Rosen, presenting SB 143.
Then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt declared the law unenforceable -- and supporters say this bill will fix that, along with enacting the will of the people.
"This is not meant to be a punitive measure; it's a safety measure," said Donna West, supports the bill. "We want to protect Nevada families."
Republicans and the NRA called the hearing “rushed” and “a secret” despite large crowds showing up at the proper place and time, and fell back on familiar arguments in favor of doing nothing. From James DeHaven, Reno Gazette Journal:
"This bill is nothing more than feel-good legislation that does absolutely nothing to protect Nevadans," said Lyon County Commissioner Ken Gray. "Address the root causes, one of which is lack of access to mental health care."
Steve Johnston, a licensed firearms dealer in Reno, agreed. He said the Legislature could better protect the public by passing legislation to allow students to carry weapons on college campuses.
The bill now goes to the full Senate, where a vote could come as early as today. LEAP Forward will continue to track and grade action on this legislation, and is scoring support.