The frequency of gun violence calls for a senseless and futile gesture and Nevada Democratic lawmakers are just the ones to do it.
In a matter of days this past week the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 143, which requires background checks to be conducted prior to the sale or transfer of any firearm by a private individual to anyone other than an immediate family member. It passed both the state Senate and Assembly without a single Republican vote. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the bill shortly after the Assembly passed it Friday.
The bill is an effort to fix the fundamental flaw that made a similar background check requirement narrowly approved by voters in 2016 unenforceable. The backers of the ballot initiative, Question 1, tried to avoid having a fiscal note saying how much the background checks would cost Nevada taxpayers by requiring the checks to be run through an FBI database and not the Central Repository for Nevada Records of Criminal History, which handles all background checks for federally licensed gun dealers in the states. The FBI refused to do the checks and the attorney general declared the law unenforceable and a district court judge agreed.
SB143 requires the state criminal history repository to be used.
Question 1 passed with only 50.45 percent of the voters approving it, failing in every county except Clark. Ninety percent of Eureka County voters rejected it, as did 82 percent in Elko and White Pine, 74 percent in Nye, 88 percent in Lincoln, 76 percent in Mineral and 89 percent in Esmeralda, for example.
In pressing for passage of the bill Friday an assembly member mentioned the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school a year earlier and read the names of those killed.
Another mentioned the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting that left 58 dead at a Las Vegas country music festival as being a reason to require background checks on private firearms sales.
The New York Times a year ago reported that the guns used in both of these shootings, as well as 17 others in recent years, were all obtained legally and the shooters all passed background checks, though a couple probably should not have. So this law would have done nothing to prevent any of those shootings.
Additionally, the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California Davis partnered with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to study the impact of a similar California background check law passed in 1991. The study found that over the next decade there was no impact whatsoever on firearm homicide and suicide rates.
UC Davis and Johns Hopkins earlier looked at two states that repealed similar background check laws in 1998 and found that over the next decade there was no impact on the rate of firearm deaths.
While SB143 would have no impact whatsoever on gun violence, it would impose considerable costs and time to be spent for those law-abiding Nevadans who try to comply with the rather vague law. Running afoul of the law once is a gross misdemeanor and more than once is a felony.
The law requires both private gun seller and buyer to appear together with the firearm at a licensed gun dealer. Since such dealers are usually open during regular business hours, presumably both buyer and seller would have to take time off from work to do so. The law also says the dealer may charge a reasonable fee, though reasonable is not defined.
One dealer testified this past week that currently background checks can tie up employees for a half hour and sometimes up to two hours. “That’s money out of my pocket,” she said.
How many dealers will be willing to actually perform such background checks, if any, and at what “reasonable” fee?
The law does not go into effect until Jan. 2, 2020. What was the rush? Couldn’t some of these unknowns have been addressed before ramming the bill through merely to satisfy Democrats’ liberal base with a feel good measure that will accomplish nothing?
A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.
By Jeffrey Meehan~Pahrump Valley Times~February 22, 2019 – 7:00 am
Two candidates are vying for a spot on Valley Electric Association’s board of director seat in Amargosa Valley.
Incumbent Dave Hall, running for his second term on Valley’s board of directors to keep hold of his District 2 seat, is being challenged by Gerald Nalepa, who has been in Nevada for over 10 years.
Voting for directors in District 2 began on Wednesday when members were to start receiving their ballots in the mail, according to a spokesman for Valley.
The last votes are to be tallied at the District 2 annual district meeting in Amargosa Valley. According to information on Valley’s website, that meeting will occur from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 19 at the Amargosa Community Center at 821 E. Amargosa Farm Road.
A seat is also open on Valley’s District 4 (Fish Lake Valley).
Only one candidate is running (unopposed) for the District 4 seat for Valley’s board of directors: Kathleen Keyes. Incumbent John Maurer is not seeking re-election to Valley’s board.
The annual district meeting for Valley’s District 4 is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 21 at the Fish Lake Valley Community Center.
Valley’s annual meeting is set for April 27 at Pahrump Valley High School. According to Valley’s website, the meeting is set to run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hall is seeking a second term on Valley’s board of directors. He currently serves as the board’s secretary.
According to a summary of Hall’s background and qualifications released by Valley, he “has helped craft VEA’s plans for the future.”
The release continued stating, “He also emphasizes the importance of member education so everyone in the co-op understands where VEA is going and why. From his position on the board of directors, Dave is helping VEA grow, because by growing, VEA will be able to generate the revenues necessary to keep costs down and provide new and better services for members.”
Hall has been a resident of Amargosa Valley for 25 years and is currently serving as chairman for the Nye County Water District Governing Board. He is also a board member for Amargosa Seniors Inc.
Hall worked 27 years for the General Electric lighting division, where he served in a number of management roles as well as in human resources and engineering, according to the release.
“Hall also was involved in his community in northeast Ohio as a volunteer firefighter for 12 years and chief for the last five,” the release stated. “He was the farm manager for Ponderosa Dairy until his retirement in 2014. With his work on the Amargosa Planning Board and farming, he has had experience in the VEA service area, including distribution, service installations and efficiency programs for irrigation.”
Nalepa is a retired Marine Corps Reserve colonel, according to a summary of Nalepa’s background and qualifications released by Valley. Nalepa spent 16 years in active duty and 14 years in the reserve.
“I was raised and mostly worked on the East Coast, but began to visit Southern Nevada when my grandparents retired in Las Vegas (1978),” the release stated. “After a year-long tour in Iraq, I drove cross-country in 2007 and stumbled across a piece of property for sale in Crystal and purchased it, as well as several lots in Pahrump, establishing myself in Nevada.”
Nalepa holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in history and a master of business administration from the University of Chicago, according to the release. Nalepa also holds a master’s in public administration from Harvard University.
Nalepa was an infantry officer and held numerous command and staff roles while serving in the Marine Corps. During his time in the reserves, he worked in the “corporate world as a marketing manager and government affairs representative,” according to the release from Valley.
“I am fully retired and have time to fully serve on the board. I do travel often, and have family obligations (my mother is 90, living in Utah), but if elected, I will do my best to not let these interfere with my board duties,” the release stated.
By Robin Hebrock ~ Pahrump Valley Times ~ February 22, 2019 – 7:00 am
The Nevada State Engineer’s Office has filed its opening brief in its appeal over water Order #1293A, which was overturned by a district court judge late last year.
In its brief, the engineer’s office, now under the leadership of Acting State Engineer Tim Wilson, argues that the findings of the district court judge were made in error and pleads with the Nevada Supreme Court to reverse the district court’s ruling. Wilson took over for former state engineer Jason King in January.
Water Order #1293 was issued in Dec. 2017 and was followed six months later by amended Order #1293A. The order restricts the drilling of new domestic wells in Pahrump unless two acre-feet of water rights have been relinquished in support of the well.
A group of local real estate agents, property owners and well drilling companies quickly formed Pahrump Fair Water LLC to fight the order, filing a lawsuit in which the group prevailed in December 2018.
Now the battle has moved to the Nevada Supreme Court and while the appeal moves through the legal process, the supreme court has issued a stay on the district court’s ruling. This means that Order #1293A is currently in effect and will remain in effect until the court makes its ultimate decision on the appeal.
“This appeal arises from the district court’s Dec. 6, 2018 order granting Pahrump Fair Water’s petition for judicial review, whereby the district court found that the state engineer exceeded his statutory authority in issuing amended Order #1293A, the state engineer should have provided notice to property owners prior to issuing amended Order #1293A, substantial evidence does not support amended Order #1293A and that Pahrump Fair Water, LLC had the requisite standing to challenge amended Order #1293A,” the state engineer’s opening brief details.
Throughout the 66-page document, the engineer’s office attempts to refute each of these findings of the district court, stating that it believes the engineer had full authority to issue the water order under existing Nevada law.
Citing a declining water table and an over-appropriated basin with the potential for nearly 100,000 acre feet of water use annually, the office claims that without the order in place, significant damage to local water resources could occur.
Further, the engineer’s office declared that if the Nevada Supreme Court does not reverse the district court’s ruling, then the engineer’s office will be placed in the precarious position of not knowing what control it can exert over domestic wells.
“Without amended Order #1293A the state engineer’s only option for addressing groundwater problems in Pahrump will be to regulate, or curtail, by priority, whereby any new domestic wells would be the first water use restricted,” the brief reads. “However, the district court’s findings even call into questions that legal directive and authority of the state engineer. If this court does not reverse the district court’s findings, the statutory authority of the state engineer to regulate domestic wells by priority is uncertain.”
In conclusion, the brief states, “Prior to issuance of amended Order #1293A, domestic wells represented the last unaccounted groundwater use in the Pahrump Basin, and yet water levels continued to drop, threatening thousands of existing wells. Amended Order #1293A is necessary to protect the existing water users in the Pahrump Basin and is a necessary component to the overall long-term management of the groundwater basin.
“Absent authority to intervene and manage the water resources, the state engineer may be required to curtail by priority, resulting in all new domestic wells being the junior most rights and the first to be curtailed,” the conclusion continued. “Allowing unrestri
cted proliferation of new domestic wells in this context represents poor management of the groundwater resource and would have dire consequences.”
Pahrump Fair Water now has until March 21 to file its answering brief.