ELKO -- With upcoming legislation regarding gun laws, members of local law enforcement agencies and gun owners sat down with the Free Press to discuss their constitutional right.
“We are here supporting the gun laws and the sale of weapons,” said Sheriff Jim Pitts.
Police Chief Ben Reed stressed the fact that local law enforcement works with gun owners and sellers to know about the issues.
“I would say as long as law enforcement works together with licensed firearms dealers to make sure that the laws are enforced and if there’s any issues that we know about it,” said Reed. “That helps the gun stores, the ammunition dealers, everyone, in their commerce, because local law enforcement is going to know about it before state or federal is going to know about it.”
He explained local departments are usually on a first name basis in their working relationships with the gun shop owners in both the county and the city.
“That is the case,” Reed explained. ”We know them all and we work together with them and if they have a problem, they’re able to just pick up the phone and call the sheriff or me and say, ‘Here’s the deal.'”
Former County Commissioner Jeff Williams, representing Gun World & Archery at 2515 Noddle Lane, said he is involved by invitation because he represents a particular business.
“I think it’s important that especially with the pending legislation that is due to come up right away, out of D.C. if not out of Nevada, concerning firearms that we make sure that everybody on the outside and the inside recognizes that, for the most part, 99 percent of gun owners in Nevada – maybe even a higher percentage than that – respects and works hand in hand with our police departments and sheriff’s offices and FBI and everybody else in being responsible gun owners.”
Williams said gun sellers want to show, as much as possible, the positive relationship between law enforcement and gun shop owners at this time because “right here is all the law enforcement in Nevada that’s really important to us, anyway.”
Store owners hope to show how they are “a positive influence for good and we abhor crime and people who misuse firearms, in any degree, just as much as they (law enforcement) do, or the judges do or anybody else,” he said.
“When people begin to realize how important it is that we have firearms, how historically important it was that we did, then I think we can recognize that we’re not clashing with each other, like a lot of people around the United States think. Actually gun owners are working together, with law enforcement, to make sure that all communities are safe,” he said, explaining his participation is to promote that message.
Pitts said at the Sheriffs' and Chiefs' Meeting the CEOs of most departments in the state will be in Elko this week.
Reed said another caveat in this is the Federal Firearms Licensees, the gun dealers, are required to have local law enforcement sign off on a license from both local law enforcement as well as adhere to numerous other federal regulations.
This sign off, he said, occurs in five-year increments, indefinitely, with local law enforcement.
“That’s one of the requirements is that we know about them, we work with them and that if there are any issues, we can communicate,” Reed said. “So, there’s a natural relationship right up front in that industry, which is highly regulated.”
Pitts said they are all there to say they support the Second Amendment.
“As long as the gun shops are very respectful of that and do the background checks, we work really well with them,” he said to the Free Press. “As long as you can legally have the firearms, we don’t oppose that at all.”
Every time a gun is bought in Nevada from a licensed dealer, unless the buyer has a concealed carry license, he or she must have a background check before the purchase is made final.
The county sheriffs in Nevada have the authority to issue concealed carry permits and conduct background checks.
“At this point in time,” said Williams, “You can still transfer a gun between two agreeing private individuals as long as everything is legal without a background check.”
This is as long as the seller doesn’t deliberately sell the gun to an individual who shouldn’t have a firearm and the gun is not knowingly stolen.
Pitts said it’s important for the public to know, especially in Elko County and maybe statewide, the sheriff’s office and all police departments in the county are pro Second Amendment.
“I think that’s really important because it shows that we have a good relationship with the gun owners of Elko County, and the sheriff’s office and the FFL-licensed dealers in things like this,” he said.
“I would go further and state that it’s our duty in law enforcement to uphold the United States Constitution and what it says,” said Reed.
Bob Roshak, executive director of the Nevada Sheriffs' and Chiefs' Association, said the association in 2013 went on the record stating they support these rights.
“We are in support of anyone who legally can to do so,” he said.
Williams said because of President Obama’s pending strategy to curb gun violence in America, sales have increased since Thanksgiving. Everything would have to go through federally licensed dealers, he said. Not every gun owner is opposed to this.
For those selling firearms, inquiries can be made, at the local departments, on any property, for example guns or vehicles – especially after purchase from a private owner – to ensure it is not stolen.
In the last legislative session a bill was passed enabling an individual to call the Department of Public Safety, at no cost, to ensure the buyer is a viable owner, said Roshak.
“I think it’s our job to follow the legislation that’s presented. We try to not get involved in the politics of it, because we have to enforce the law ... to everybody, and we do our best to try and stay up on what all those laws are,” Reed.
Owner of Gun World & Archery Farnes Williams said it is good to work with the local law enforcement and "we support them any way that we can."
On the subject of gun laws, he said the government needs to enforce the laws they already have.
"They've already got enough laws in effect as it is," he said, calling the pending legislation "unnecessary."