Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoes bill mandating background checks on all in-state gun sales
By MATT WOOLBRIGHT Associated Press
June 13, 2013 - 6:12 pm EDT
CARSON CITY, Nevada — Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill Thursday that would have required a background check almost any time a firearm changes hands in Nevada, carrying through on his earlier promises to kill legislation that attracted interest in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting and a rampage at a Nevada restaurant in 2011.
In his veto message, Sandoval said the universal background checks provision "imposes unreasonable burdens and harsh penalties upon law-abiding Nevadans, while doing little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms."
A reversal of course would have required a background check almost any time a firearm changes hands — regardless of whether the exchange is permanent or a loan — and enacted certain improvements to laws relating to mentally ill people and guns.
"It's disappointing. This is common sense legislation that protected rights of gun owners in our state while making great strides to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill," said Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, the bill's sponsor who found out about the veto from reading tweets. "The governor turned a blind eye to victims of tragedies like Sandy Hook and IHOP."
A gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Four people were killed and several were injured in a shooting at a Carson City IHOP in 2011.
The governor's office said from the beginning that the bill would not be supported unless the background checks provisions were removed, Jones added.
Sandoval praised the mental health reporting requirements in his veto message, but the hotly contested background checks provisions constituted an "erosion of Nevadans' Second Amendment rights."
Penalties for those who hand over weapons improperly included the loss of gun rights for two years and, in some cases, prison.
"The Second Amendment protects right to keep and bear arms, but like any other right it has its limitations," Jones said. "No court has ever found that background check legislation violates the second amendment."
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., released a statement shortly after the veto saying he was "deeply disappointed" in Sandoval for his decision.
"People convicted of a felony or suffering from a severe mental illness should be prevented from buying a gun with a simple background check," Reid said in a statement. "Ninety percent of Nevadans agree and it is too bad this bill has been vetoed."
It is a significant defeat for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control advocacy group, Mayor's Against Illegal Guns, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars working to get the bill passed.
The group bought numerous ads on social media sites, news websites and television, in addition to mailing out materials attacking select lawmakers who voted against the bill during the session. Video ads pressuring Sandoval to sign the bill surfaced immediately following the Assembly nod of approval.
But an automated system set up to field the flood of calls to the governor's office about the bill showed an overwhelming majority of calls wanted Sandoval to veto the bill. The system did not record names, so it was possible for callers to call multiple times and distort the numbers.
Notably absent in the veto message was any mention of the call records to this system. In the days leading up to the veto, tens of thousands of calls were being registered daily — with about three callers urging a veto for every one caller supporting the bill.
"I applaud the governor for choosing to consider the will of Nevadans and not allowing himself to be swayed by the out-of-state billionaires who funded and pushed this legislation," said Ron Sims, a Gardnerville gun owner who testified at several hearings on the bill.
Advocates on both sides of the issue liked the sections mandating faster and better reporting of court-findings of mental illness and requiring a doctor to report a patient who makes a specific threat toward themselves or someone else.
Jones amended those sections into another bill in case his main effort didn't become law, but that measure failed to pass the Legislature before the final deadline. He said from the beginning he would not split the background checks and mental health provisions in SB221.
Jones told The Associated Press that he hopes better gun policy will be enacted on the federal level in the next two years, but if it doesn't, he will champion the cause again.
"If Congress obstructs going forward like the governor did, then I'll be back," Jones said
Michael Bloomberg is trying hard to buy what he wants.
how would they know if its not in a registry couldnt i just give them away to anyone?
Michael Bloomberg is a fucking douche.
Makes me proud to be a nevadan.
How that bill even got to Sandoval's desk is confusing. If Nevada is that anti-gun now, we got problems.
Another 90% supporting claim.