CARSON CITY — Republican Assembly leaders Jim Wheeler and John Ellison released the following joint statement on recent and upcoming gun-related bills in Nevada’s capital:
Next week we anticipate that Assembly Bill 291 will get pushed through the Legislature here in Carson City just like Senate Bill 143 was before it. We are concerned that our fellow Nevadans may not be familiar with the full story as to why we are slowing having our Second Amendment rights eroded.
New York City has had a major influence on gun policy in Nevada since 2014. That is when former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg began his long-term plan to greatly restrict every Nevadan’s ability to obtain a gun. Rather than addressing the problems in his own backyard where New York City has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and still has a large number of gun-related crimes, Bloomberg donated $12,400,000 from Oct. 28, 2014, to Oct. 16, 2016, into two groups operating in Nevada to limit our Second Amendment rights. Those groups, Everytown for Gun Safety and Nevadans for Background Checks, were the main proponents behind Question 1 from the 2016 Election – the Nevada Background Checks for Gun Purchase Initiative.
Everytown for Gun Safety is a national group that has been active nationally pursing similar initiatives in many other states. They came to Nevada fully stocked with approximately $8 million in their coffers prior to donations being obtained and reported in Nevada from Michael Bloomberg. For the 2016 Election Cycle, Everytown for Gun Safety spent only $400,000 on operations and then proceeded to donate $750,000 to the Nevada State Democrat Party and $13,850,000 to Nevadans for Background Checks. In essence, Everytown for Gun Safety served as a “pass through” for funds from Michael Bloomberg to Nevadans for Background Checks which was the group on the ground that handled the day-to-day operations supporting the Nevada Background Checks for Gun Purchase Initiative.
Knowing now that Nevadans for Background Checks was the main group behind the day-to-day operations to get Question 1 passed, we need to closely examine their expenditures. They began preparing for the 2016 Election over two years prior to November of 2016. Nevadans for Background Checks spent a whopping $18,665,000 to get Question 1 passed. This money went to pay for staff and other day-to-day operations including communications, advertising, voter outreach, and other operating costs.
Question 1, Nevada Background Checks for Gun Purchase Initiative, passed in Nevada by a margin of less than 1%. A total of 558,631 Nevadans voted in favor of Question 1 while 548,732 Nevadans voted against it. In the end, a difference of less than 10,000 Nevadans decided to restrict our Second Amendment rights. Making matters worse, only 1 of Nevada’s 17 counties voted in favor of Question 1.
As it turned out, the language of the ballot initiative had issues. Question 1 was designed to require background checks for firearm transfers between unlicensed citizens, also known as private-party sales, which would take place through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICBCS). The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a letter to Nevada regarding the initiative, “the recent passage of the Nevada legislation [Question 1] regarding background checks for private sales cannot dictate how federal resources are applied.” As of 2016, Nevada was one of 12 states with a state-run background checks system and did not depend on the FBI to perform existing background checks.
Still flush with money, Nevadans for Background Checks filed suit in Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District Court on Oct. 12, 2017. Governor Sandoval and Attorney General Laxalt responded by saying the measure could not be enforced because the initiative was defective as written. On Aug. 20, 2018, the judge in the case said the plaintiff’s arguments were flawed and evidence existed showing that Governor Sandoval and Attorney General Laxalt tried to negotiate with the FBI to implement Question 1.
Not to be deterred, Everytown for Gun Safety donated an additional $3.1 million to Democrat campaigns and PACs in Nevada during the 2018 Election Cycle. To put this into perspective, the combined money raised by the 63 members of the Nevada Assembly was $11.7 million for the entire 2017-2018 Election Cycle and $10.8 million for the 2015-2016 Election Cycle. That four-year total is $22.5 million. The Bloomberg related groups spent a total of $21.8 million ($18.7 million in the 2016 Election Cycle and $3.1 million in the 2018 Election Cycle) in the four-year period from 2014 to 2018 – nearly the same amount as was donated to all 63 of Nevada’s legislators during the last four years.
The supporters of Question 1 were emboldened by the results of the 2018 Election that put a Democrat into the governor’s mansion and gained huge majorities in both the State Senate and State Assembly for Democrats. One of the first measures passed was Senate Bill 143 that attempted to rectify the issues with the Nevada Background Checks for Gun Purchase Initiative. The bill removed the requirement that the FBI conduct the background checks and relied upon Nevada’s own background check system. It was hastily rushed through both houses and signed by Governor Sisolak on the anniversary of the Parkland, Florida shootings. The bill signing was a nationwide coordinated effort by Democrats, with directives coming from Washington DC, to have anti-gun bills signed in many states where the legislature is Democrat controlled. Assembly Bill 291 seems destined to head down that same path.
Such is the environment here in Carson City. Where we used to see a legislature that was looking out for the welfare of all Nevadans, we now see a partisan legislature controlled by Democrats that are more beholden to New York City and Washington DC and the monetary influence of billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Tom Steyer rather than the citizens of Nevada.