Public opinion on guns shifting fast, needs to shift faster

and then he would become AG
March for Our Lives demonstration in Las Vegas, March 2018. Photo: Hugh Jackson
and then he would become AG
March for Our Lives demonstration in Las Vegas, March 2018. Photo: Hugh Jackson

“Legislation to strengthen or enact background checks is pending in 17 states,” the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reported in its Feb. 4 Gun Law Trendwatch newsletter. The measures are among at least 50 pieces of gun safety legislation the center is currently tracking in statehouses across the country. And those are on the heels of dozens of gun safety bills that have been enacted in states in the past year, which is to say since Parkland.

Nevada’s law to apply background checks to private gun sales was passed by voters in 2016, before Parkland, before Sutherland Springs, before Pittsburgh, and before the mass shooting from a window at Mandalay Bay, but after Sandy Hook, Orlando, San Bernardino and too many others.

Deliberately and zealously stifled by a politically ambitious former attorney general, Nevada’s voter approved background check law was never implemented, prompting the legislation that was approved by a state Senate committee in Carson City Tuesday.

In the 2018 election cycle, virtually every Democratic candidate in Nevada, like the vast majority of Democratic candidates nationwide, campaigned on stronger gun safety laws.

That would have been unimaginable even a decade ago. But politicians, who tend to follow public opinion rather than lead it, finally caught up with public’s long-held and, of late, quickly strengthening support for measures to curb gun violence in a country more awash in guns than any other developed nation.

There are an estimated 393 million civilian-owned guns in the U.S., more than half of all the civilian-owned guns in the world. The gun lobby’s front line soldiers who railed against background checks in Carson City Tuesday are right about one thing: expanding background checks is not going to end gun violence in the U.S. Background checks, banning bump stocks, outlawing sales of semi-automatics or other regulatory measures aren’t going to change the fact that in the U.S. there are already more guns than people.

What may ultimately end, or at least severely curb, rampant gun violence in the U.S. is a change in the country’s gun culture — a change that will facilitate developments like a Australian-style gun bans and buybacks. And ultimately, at some point, the nation is going to have acknowledge that the Second Amendment is an 18th century relic, the meaning of which has been egregiously abused by the public, and the intention of which has been shamelessly bastardized by the U.S. Supreme Court.

None of that’s going to happen soon. In the meantime, state, local and federal governments have to pass what they can, when they can, to limit and reduce gun ownership in the U.S., and at least try to prevent as many gun deaths as possible.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.


  1. Good luck taking guns from citizens asshole. Nobody is going to abide by the SB143 law and no cop will bother enforcing it. Move to Australia you pussy.

    • Another opinion from a silver spoon eating liberal . With an opinion that reducing access to guns will reduce gun violence . Sorry but along with Alice in wonderland fantasies , this diatribe from the writer fits no know equation in the USA. Criminals do not follow laws or back round checks of any kind they steal the guns and ammo they have and they use them to commit crimes where they can sell their booty to other criminals for more guns and ammo that come in fromcartels in
      México wher there are no laws to follow or
      Back round checks to clear , the mindless diatribe of the author about other countries where it worked has been blinded by his own diatribe and color spin. Australia learned the hard way criminals don’t need guns to kill
      People . England has learned the same with murders from knives and machetes and clubs gang rapes by hundred of thousands of immigrants who don’t follow laws or back
      Round checks I guess that’s why England has manned their police with guns in stead of reading and writing false news to
      Make his point the author needs to do research on more than his own opinions , Nevada did just fine with laws that gave out two for one sentences for gun violence. And european countries are striking fences and kicking out illegals to protect their citizens we need to pay attention

  2. An opinion from another liberal about how it worked so well somewhere else and we need to reduce ownership to combat crime the same nonsense that happened everywhere else only the. Criminals had the guns and law abiding citizens were the victims ….apparently this guy doesn’t read the news as well as he prints his own color on it . Australia and England are rearming their police and listening rules on permits with hundreds of thousands of immigrants commuting violent crimes in Europe and overseas the answer will never be . Remove the guns, it won’t work even if it were possible to remove guns from criminals they will go back to knives and machetes and clubs .. Nevada was in a much better place when a crime of violence using a gun got bad guys a two for one sentence that removed them from the streets. No matter how much liberals dream of Alice in wonderland fantasies , making the good law abiding citizens of this state into helpless victims only adds to the death count . Bad guys don’t follow laws they kill people and their victims follow your pointless laws and die for it.


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