Defying 87 percent of the state’s voters, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) vetoed a universal background check bill for gun purchases on Thursday — one day before the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
The bill, passed by Nevada’s Democratically controlled state legislature, would have required a background check prior to all gun sales and would have increased reporting of mental illness data. The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm called the proposal “misguided gun control legislation being forced on law-abiding citizens of Nevada.”
But far from being forced upon the people, the state legislature was acting on their clear will. An April poll found 87 percent of Nevada voters think a background check should be required on all gun sales — including 75 percent of Nevadans who said that “strongly favor” such a law. Just nine percent of Nevadans strongly opposed the idea. A February poll had shown 86 percent support in Nevada for universal background checks. After voting against the Manchin-Toomey background check compromise in the U.S. Senate, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) was one of several opponents to see their approval ratings drop.
But Sandoval said his decision was in part due to the loud voices of that small minority that does not believe criminal background checks should be required prior to gun purchases. He told a local TV station that he’d received 28,000 calls from opponents, and only about 7,000 from supporters. While indicating support for the mental health data reporting provisions, he wrote in his veto message that requiring an instant background check would have been “an erosion of Nevadans’ Second Amendment Rights under the United States Constitution” that might “subject otherwise law-abiding citizens to criminal prosecution.”
Sandoval’s veto came on the of the six-month anniversary of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. At the time, he released a statement lamenting the shootings and ordering that the state’s flags be flown at half-staff in memory of the victims.