CARSON CITY – State Sen. Justin Jones‘s background check bill passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee today, the final day of the 2013 session. It will go to the Assembly floor later today, where it’s expected to pass, but Gov. Brian Sandoval is sure to veto it.
The bill has two components: It would speed the currently required reporting of mental health information about people disallowed from owning firearms to the state criminal-history database, and it would require most gun sales (with some exceptions) to be accompanied by a background check, including sales between private parties and at gun shows.
There were few comments about the bill in the committee’s work session. Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, D-North Las Vegas, said the bill would cut down on black-market gun sales of guns that are later used in crimes. “I believe that this bill might close some loopholes and keep our community safer,” Diaz said.
Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, D-Henderson, said she knows people who have been hurt by mentally ill people using firearms, although the vote was difficult one for her to cast.
Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, opposed the bill, saying criminals would continue to buy weapons on the black market, ignoring the background check requirement. “It’s going to punish the good people,” he said simply.
Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, spoke up to say she was glad Sandoval was planning a veto.
In the end, five lawmakers voted against the bill in the 13-member committee: Hansen, Fiore, and Jim Wheeler, R-Minden, along with Richard Carrillo and James Ohrenschall, both D-Las Vegas.
The bill has been the subject of intense lobbying, inside and outside of the legislative building. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has paid for mail and television advertisements targeting opponents of the bill. But the National Rifle Association has come out against the bill, and lawmakers have been inundated with calls and emails in opposition. The bill is the most commented-upon measure in the entire 2013 Legislature, with nearly 3,000 votes against and 554 votes in favor on the legislature’s website.
Jones has lobbied hard for the bill, bringing in family members of those victimized by gun violence. Last week, Jones had astronaut Mark Kelly — husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in a mass shooting along with several constituents — endorsing the measure in a visit to the legislative building.