Gun owners debate benefits of Question 1

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Picking a new president is far from the only question facing voters in November. Nevadans will have a say on several issues that will shape our state’s future, including background checks on private gun sales.

Question 1 is a statewide ballot measure that, if passed, would require an unlicensed seller who wants to sell or transfer a firearm to go through a federally licensed gun dealer.

Some gun owners say it’s a non-partisan issue with strong support and opposition.

“It’s one of those things that’s a sensible way to keep guns out of the hands of people that should not have them, and it’s not intrusive on those of us that are gun owners,” said Richard Cornstuble, who volunteers for the group Gun Owners for Background Checks which backs Question 1.

“There’s no sanctions for bad guys to have guns,” said Don Turner, president of Nevadans for State Gun Rights, which opposes the measure. “All the sanctions are on the good people that happen to transfer or sell a gun to another good person. It makes them a criminal.”

Supporters and opponents to Question 1 agree on one thing: they want guns to stay out of hands of criminals.

Whether this ballot initiative will affect that is subject to debate.

“Right now, we have a loophole that those who should not have firearms use to get them, and we need to close that,” Cornstuble said.

“FBI statistics show that most guns used in crimes are either stolen or bought through illegal gun dealers. This background initiative will have nothing to do with stopping anything,” Turner said.

Criminal background checks are required on all sales by licensed dealers, but guns bought from an unlicensed dealer, such as at a gun show, do not need background checks.

If Question 1 passes, that will change in Nevada.

“I think people need to understand that this is going to be for the purchase of weapons between individuals, the same that it is between licensed gun dealers,” Cornstuble said.

Others say it’s a violation of the Second Amendment.

“The saying is, ‘The devil is in the details.’ There’s nobody that wants to see bad guys get a hold of guns. We’re opposed to this, because it’s a bureaucratic nightmare,” Turner said.

If passed, certain transfers would be exempt from the requirement, such as guns inherited from family members who passed away, or if someone lends a friend a gun for hunting or self-defense. For the latter scenario, the person providing the gun would need to be present while the recipient uses the gun.

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