Douglas opposes background check law |

Douglas opposes background check law

Commissioners Larry Walsh and Barry Penzel appear on the monitor during Thursday's meeting where the board approved a resolution opposing private party background checks approved by the Legisature last month.
Kurt Hildebrand

Saying he hoped it served as a shot heard round the world, Douglas County Commission Chairman Barry Penzel told a crowd of 250 people that they needed to contribute if they wanted to prevent further legislation like that implementing private party background checks.

More than 30 people spoke on a resolution opposing the implementation of background checks approved by the Nevada Legislature last month.

Of the total only three opposed the county’s resolution, backed by a smattering of supporters in the back corner of the Douglas County Community & Senior Center’s main dining room.

Commissioners made it clear from the start that they intended to pass the resolution, which led many speakers to thank them for opposing the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

When it came time for a vote, they came down 5-0 in favor of the resolution.

Commissioner Dave Nelson, who organized two rallies against the law over the past two weeks, said he opposed referring to the proposal as making Douglas a 2nd Amendment sanctuary county.

“The sanctuary cities are supporting lawbreakers,” he said. “That’s not what this bill is about. This bill is about nullifying an unconstitutional law. I would like people to refer to this as nullification, not sanctuary.”

Nelson said he agreed with residents who said the law was chipping away at Constitutional rights.

“This legislation is not going to save anybody’s life,” he said. “Criminals don’t buy guns from regular people. They buy them from other criminals or they steal them.”

Commissioner Wes Rice, a retired law enforcement officer, said “when seconds count, the police are minutes away. I for one don’t want to see any of our gun rights chipped away at.”

Penzel thanked Deputy District Attorney Mary Anne Martin for her effort to get the resolution written and the county manager for scheduling the meeting so quickly.

“It’s been a team effort,” he said. “We face a difficult uphill task with a completely Democrat-controlled Legislature. Move afoot to come after the rurals because we vote Republican. It’s time to take back Nevada.”

Penzel said his fear was that the Legislature will get the resolution from the county and toss it in the garbage.

“I propose we fund a prosecutor to look at the constitutionality of these laws and future laws,” he said. “Douglas County needs to get active in the judicial system.”

Senate Bill 143 was signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak on Feb. 15.

The Legislature’s Democratic majority passed the bill over objections of Republicans and many who testified against it.

Douglas Republican lawmakers Sen. James Settelmeyer and Assemblyman Jim Wheeler have both opposed the bill.