By John Hambrick
As a retired federal law enforcement officer and the current Speaker of the Nevada Assembly, I have taken oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, which puts reasonable limitations on the power of the government, including on efforts to restrict regular citizens from possessing firearms. This November, former New York City Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg will be urging Nevadans to vote away a portion of their constitutionally protected rights as guaranteed in our 2nd Amendment. Bloomberg’s Question 1 is one of the most restrictive gun control measures the Silver State has ever seen. This initiative, if passed, would result in virtually every transfer of a firearm in Nevada being subjected to federal record keeping and a background check process. The initiative creates a massive regulatory scheme that disproportionately impacts law-abiding gun owners and erects significant barriers to gun ownership for would-be owners seeking to purchase or otherwise acquire a gun for self-defense or other legal purposes. Most importantly, Question 1 does nothing to stop criminals or terrorists. Make no mistake, Bloomberg’s initiative is not about ensuring anyone’s safety or protecting the public. It is about targeting our constitutional right to self-defense by making gun ownership heavily regulated, costly and onerous for everyday Nevadans. The debate about gun control should be over. We know now that creating regulatory barriers to entry and draconian rules surrounding gun ownership don’t stop every day criminals or the most vicious terrorists from acquiring guns. The sky-high rate of violent crime in Chicago and rash of terrorist shootings across continental Europe all make the same point—efforts to control guns only result in a defenseless population. My experience as a criminal investigator leads me to agree with the National Institute of Justice when they argue that so-called “universal” background checks are never universal because criminals will never comply with their requirements. “Universal” background checks are unenforceable without requiring complete gun registration with the government. Question 1 is an unenforceable, unfunded mandate on law-abiding citizens that will only divert law enforcement’s already scarce resources and would provide the first step in creating a registry of all law-abiding gun owners. Further, Question 1 will make criminals out of the innocent by criminalizing even the most mundane of everyday gun “transfers.” Friends who exchange guns while target shooting or a service member facing deployment who safely stores his or her firearms with a responsible friend—these every day instances will become subject to a pages long regulatory screed that criminals will continue to disregard. I know that laws like this don’t work, and they never have. They make crimes out of innocent acts and fail to address the fundamental causes of gun crime. This makes us less safe and more vulnerable to criminals and terrorists. That is why I am voting No on Question 1 in November and why I’m asking you to vote no, as well. John Hambrick is speaker of the Nevada State Assembly.