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NRA Opposes Nevada's Background Check Initiative

Harrison McClary/Reuters /Landov
Harrison McClary/Reuters /Landov

Attendees visit the trade booths during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., in April.

Gun control advocates in Nevada have put background checks on the November ballot.

The group Nevadans for Background Checks believes the initiative will create a level playing field where all gun sellers must follow the same set of rules.

Right now in Nevada, felons, domestic abusers and people with severe mental illness can buys guns from unlicensed sellers with no questions asked.

Jan Jones Blackhurst, co-chair of Nevada's for Background Checks, told KNPR's State of Nevada on Feb. 9, that if approved, the proposal would not change how most people buy a gun. She said the initiative is just looking to close two big loopholes for online and gun show sales.

The National Rifle Association is lobbying against the measure in Nevada, claiming some $3.6 million has been spent by supporters outside of the state to get the initiative on the ballot and passed.

Catherine Mortensen is the media liaison for the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. 

Mortensen told KNPR's State of Nevada that one of the big problems the organization has will the initiative is that "criminals don't go through background checks already."

She contends that criminals use all kinds of means to get weapons and even if the background checks are expanded criminals will continue to go around them. 

The group also has a problem with the initiative because it covers "every transfer of a firearm," which Mortensen said includes allowing "shooting buddies" to swap firearms while hunting or at a shooting range. 

"There is language in this ballot initiative that has potential to criminalize the common everyday practices of law-abiding gun owners in Nevada," She said. 

She also said that putting in a background check for online and gun show sales would not have stopped any of the mass shootings that have happened in the country since the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. 

Mortensen said that all of the people involved in mass shootings obtained their guns legally or in the case of Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, stole them from his mother.

What the NRA does support is a strengthened mental health system. 

She said plugging some of the holes in the system would work better than expanded background checks. 

"We are supporting legislation in Congress that would incentivize states to share more of those mental health records with that federal database," she said. 

Mortensen also argued the initiative is not a grassroots effort by Nevadans but a push from groups outside the state, like the Michael Bloomberg backed group Everytown for Gun Safety

"This is an export from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg," she said, "This is the nanny-state that he brought to New York City. He wants to bring it to Nevada. And we believe that the people of Nevada will reject that."

Catherine Mortensen, media liaison, National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action

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