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Gun control: Universal background checks at forefront nationally, statewide


In the wake of the terror attack in Orlando, gun control debate is once again at the forefront of the minds of Americans and members of the United States Congress.

First on their agenda: The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen was on the FBI’s terror watch list twice, so why was he able to buy guns.

On Wednesday, Democrats filibustered on the floor of the Capitol.  One Democratic senator stood on the floor for 15 hours pushing for a vote on two amendments.

One bill would stop people on the no-fly and terror watch list from buying guns, while the second would expand background checks to include sales on the internet and at gun shows:

“We know that terrorists are enlisting people here to kill people.  We need to stop those people from buying weapons,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT.

However, many Republicans disagree, so they’re pushing their own legislation.

“You don’t defeat terrorism by taking away our guns, you defeat terrorism by using our guns,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX.

The Republican’s bill would require the FBI to get a court order to block someone on the terror watch list from buying a gun.

Nevada has gun legislation of its own on the November ballot.  Question one would enact near-universal background checks in the state.  CBS News released a poll Wednesday night which showed 89 percent Americans support.

The background check initiative was the first to make the ballot in early April.  While it still appears to be a partisan issue among the congressional candidates, there are signs it’s becoming less partisan among voters.

Voters will answer the question of whether or not there should be background checks on private gun sales in Nevada in November, but Congressional District 3 candidates, say they’ve tussled over the issue before, and then they called SB 211 as state lawmakers in the 2013 legislative session.  Their stances haven’t changed.

“I voted against it then,” said Cresent Hardy, R-Nevada.  “I think that the universal background checks aren’t going to solve the problems with crime, we need to be focused on people that have mental issues.”

“Two legislative sessions ago, along with Senator Justin Jones, we co-sponsored the background checks bill; it passed, and unfortunately it got vetoed,” said Ruben Kihuen/(D) CD-4 Candidate.  “But, hopefully, this will pass.”

In CD-4, Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian has maintained he opposes any efforts to restrict the sale or ownership of guns.  His opponent, Democrat Jacky Rosen of Congressional District 3, supports the initiative.

“I support universal background checks,” Rosen said.  “I believe that you can support the 2nd Amendment 100% and be smart and have universal background checks.”

Lawmakers narrowly passed SB-211 in 2013, but Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed it, citing concerns over background checks for private gun sales.

“Closing the loophole is going to be a lot better than just leaving it wide open for those people that want to do bad things,” said Maria-Teresa Liebermann, D-NV, Battle Born Progress.

“I don’t think this is going to impinge on law abiding citizens buying guns,” said Alan Stock, R-NV, KXNT Radio Host.  “What’s going to happen in November?”

Two recent UNLV polls of registered voters in Nevada show strong support for the initiative. There is over 80 percent among all voters, and just shy of 70 percent among conservatives.

As for the Senate candidates: Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto supports universal background checks.  Republican Representative Joe Heck has been supportive of expanded background checks.

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