The horrific massacre in Las Vegas was one of the worst displays of violence our state and our nation have ever seen. Yet as we continue to deal with the shock and the grief of this attack, we also have reason to feel enormous pride. This tragedy has brought out the very best of humanity. The stories of heroism, sacrifice and bravery displayed by our law enforcement and first responders, as well as the everyday pedestrians who sprang into action, have given us light in this dark hour.
Sadly, at a time when we should be coming together, some are attempting to exploit this tragedy for political gain. Such is the case with the discussion around the Question 1 ballot initiative that narrowly passed last November.
The initiative mandated the FBI be the only entity to conduct additional background checks for private licensers. In fact, it explicitly stated that licensers should not contact the Nevada Department of Public Safety to conduct background checks. The FBI, however, informed the state of Nevada in December that it would not conduct the checks, making the central function of the act impossible. In response to a request by the governor’s Department of Public Safety, my office issued a legal opinion recognizing that clear fact. All of this has been well-documented and part of the public record and discussion. It leaves absolutely no room for confusion.
Unsurprisingly, some supporters of Question 1 — including several in the media — responded to the recent tragedy with false facts and visceral commentary. National interest groups go so far as to blame my office for failing to implement Question 1.
These accusations are absurd. It is not the job — and it is not within the legal authority — of the attorney general to either block or implement any ballot initiative. The attorney general’s role is to provide a legal opinion, when asked, based on an analysis of the law. That is exactly what I did. Nor is it the attorney general’s job to correct the mistakes of a group of out-of-state activists who designed a poorly written, unenforceable initiative because they couldn’t be bothered to familiarize themselves with either Nevada law or FBI practice before sending it to the ballot.
Additionally, as many, including U.S. Sen.Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have said, no law could have stopped the attacker. It should be crystal clear to anybody honestly reporting the facts that Question 1, even if it had been implemented, would have done nothing to prevent this tragedy. The attacker purchased his weapons legally after passing the background-check process.
To some, however, these indisputable facts mean nothing when weighed against the opportunity to score cheap political points. I have received death threats against my wife and 1- and 4-year-old daughters. This is dangerous and inexcusable, and those who are engaging in them should ask themselves if they really want to continue to behave with such shame and indecency.
My heart breaks for those who lost loved ones in this horrific event. Those who lost their lives were our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers and friends. My family and I continue to pray for them and for those still fighting for their lives and for all those who are still trying to make sense of the incomprehensible.
My office will continue to do everything it can and utilize every resource to aid the Las Vegas victims and their families. We have been working with GoFundMe to help donors avoid scams. I’m dedicated to protecting Nevadans from those abhorrent individuals who would try to take advantage of generosity in a time like this.
We requested attorneys general offices in other states send victim services officers, and we set up a victim services unit at the family resource center. I am enormously grateful for the support we have received from my colleagues around the country, including the AG offices in Florida, Colorado, California, Wisconsin, Virginia and Arizona who responded to our request and have officers in state right now assisting our team.
As we continue to work and as our state continues to heal, I will continue to draw inspiration from those who have made Nevadans so proud over the past weeks. Those who have responded to one of the most unimaginable disasters we have ever seen with a courage, kindness and character represent the very best of the human spirit. May we all follow their example.
Adam Laxalt, a Republican, is Nevada’s attorney general.