COMMENTARY: Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt must enforce background check law

As a mother, a concerned citizen and the Nevada chapter leader of Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America — representing more than 1,200 active members in this state — I call on Attorney General Adam Laxalt to enforce the will of the people and require implementation of the Background Check Initiative.

An estimated 22 percent of gun sales in Nevada occur through private transfers, either between strangers who have met online or at gun shows through unlicensed dealers. Without a background check, there is no way for a seller to determine if a buyer is legally allowed to purchase a gun. We should be making it more difficult for prohibited purchasers to obtain weapons, not giving them gaping loopholes to easily take advantage of.

Mr. Laxalt’s argument is that Nevada is a “point of contact” state and therefore the law, passed in November as state Question 1, is unenforceable because it states private party sales must go through the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check system. This argument is disingenuous, however, as several other states have a dual enforcement system, such as Washington and Wisconsin.

If Mr. Laxalt wanted to enforce this law, he would be making the requisite moves to do so. Unfortunately, he seems to be more beholden to the gun lobby than to Nevada citizens, who voted in November to enact this legislation.

Playing politics with this issue does not keep people safe, background checks do. Mr. Laxalt was vocally opposed to Question 1 during the campaign season, as well as to Question 2, which legalizes recreational use of marijuana. Hypocritically, he has shown a willingness to enforce the legalized sale of marijuana, even though it is still illegal on the federal level. Unlike recreational drug use, which may add tax dollars to the state coffers, background checks save lives, yet Mr. Laxalt continues to curry favor with the NRA leadership instead of doing his job.

Thousands of volunteers worked tirelessly for months to get this law passed and we will not rest until it is implemented as intended. The attorney general should change course and enforce the law. Otherwise, we will not forget his dereliction of duty when he next runs for office.

Elizabeth Becker writes from Las Vegas.

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