I disagree with Barbara Ellestad, who urged voters to oppose Question 1 in your Early Voting Guide. By passing Question 1, we can do more to keep guns away from criminals while respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners like myself.
I’m a hunter and a member of the National Rifle Association. I don’t want anyone taking my gun rights away. But Question 1 won’t do that. What it will do is protect people like me, and the people I love, from dangerous people by requiring a background check on every gun sale.
Federal law requires a background check only on guns bought from licensed dealers. Question 1 would extend this requirement to all Nevada gun sales, closing a loophole through which people can currently avoid background checks in Nevada by buying guns through online marketplaces or at gun shows.
Question 1 includes exemptions related to hunting, family and self-defense.
As Ms. Ellestad has pointed out, criminals don’t follow all laws. But just like our laws against murder and theft, background checks make us safer even though they can’t prevent every crime. Here in Nevada alone, between 2012 and 2014 background checks blocked 5,379 gun sales to people not allowed to have guns, including felons, fugitives and domestic abusers.
In fact, in states that require a background check on all handgun sales, 46 percent fewer women are fatally shot with guns, and 48 percent fewer police officers are killed with handguns in the line of duty.
Statistics like those help explain why so many people across this state support closing our background check loophole. In addition to gun owners like me, a long list of law enforcement, faith, business and community leaders have urged Nevadans to vote “Yes” on Question 1.
Finally, Ms. Ellestad refers to the “extra cost and hassle” of requiring background checks on all gun sales. Most background checks take place on the spot, and more than 97 percent of Nevadans live within 10 miles of a licensed gun dealer, where a background check can take place. In other states that have passed similar laws, most background checks cost between $15 and $20. To me, that’s not much cost or hassle for a system that can keep a gun out of the hands of a dangerous person.
I hope you’ll join me in voting to make our state safer by voting “Yes” on Question 1.
Las Vegas, NV
Paul Larsen is a Nevadan, a hunter and NRA member.