On June 13, Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed Senate Bill 221, Nevada’s version of the law requiring universal background checks for firearm purchase and closing the so-called gun-show loophole. Senator Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, included language from the gun lobby’s issue du jour—barring the criminal mentally ill from legal possession—but it wasn’t enough to override libertarian angst about infringement of Second Amendment rights. Gun control advocate Teresa Crawford, a 64-year-old registered nurse, is already moving on.
Does this close the case for gun control in Nevada?
No. The bill will come back to the state Legislature in 2015 for a possible veto override, so we’ll start working on that for the longer game. In the shorter term, we’ll double our efforts to get the federal background check bill on the U.S. Senate floor. It has the support of Vice President [Joe] Biden, Senator [Harry] Reid and others. We really need a federal law, rather than the patchwork of some strong laws, like the one in California, and some weak laws, like ours.
Why do we need gun control at all?
Nevada’s gun-crime rate is much higher than average in general, and it’s not a safe place to be as a woman. Over the last decade, women in Nevada were 46 percent more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other U.S. states. … Sure, someone bent on doing harm can do it without a gun, but the presence of a gun in a domestic violence incident increases the likelihood of death by 500 percent. If somebody has a domestic violence conviction or permanent restraining order, they won’t pass a legitimate background check.
Rumors peg Sandoval as a potential 2016 Republican vice presidential candidate. How will his veto decision play into that?
It’s very sad that the governor would ignore the weight of credible evidence that background checks will save lives. I don’t know if he has future political ambitions, but this is not a political issue. Three separate polls of Nevadans show a majority of them favor [universal background checks] across the political spectrum, including gun owners.