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Johnny O Goes to War with NRA Warrior

On Easter Sunday, Carrie Herbertson, Nevada State Liaison for the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, sent the following email to members of Nevada’s Assembly opposing a bill introduced by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera which, in essense, plagiarized four individual gun bills sponsored by other legislators and, as amended, increases the fee gun owners must pay for CCW permits. Here’s Ms. Herbertson’s email:

Subject: AB 282 Oppose on Third Read

Dear Assemblymembers:

On behalf of the Nevada members of the National Rifle Association, I would like to inform you that when Assembly Bill 282 comes up on Third Reading (scheduled on Monday, April 25th), the National Rifle Association is going to be formally adopting an OPPOSE position to this bill.

Despite the many hours of work that have gone into the issues contained in this bill, not excluding Speaker Oceguera’s, your colleagues Assemblyman Bobzien (AB 143), Assemblyman Pat Hickey (AB 205) and Assemblyman Goedhart (AB 185), the amendment (No. 359) adopted on Second Reading on April 22nd, which reads “Section 4 of this bill revises the fee for the renewal of a permit from $25 to the amount necessary to obtain the reports required as part of the investigation by the sheriff” would most assuredly result in a fee increase, and that is not something we can support. CCW permit holders seeking to renew their permits could be excluded from doing so should the fees go beyond what they can afford. What would prohibit an issuing agency from charging an outlandish fee under the auspices of “that which is necessary”? Should that occur (and we have no reason to believe it wouldn’t), thousands of law-abiding Nevadans would be excluded from exercising their right to self-defend because they just could not afford to do so – and that would be discriminatory at the very least.

In fact, when a fee increase on concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit applications was added to a 2007 measure (AB 21) which was very similar in nature to the language in AB 282, the opposition was tremendous and then Governor Jim Gibbons was adamant that he would veto any measure that contained a fee increase. As a result, a good policy measure was scuttled with the help of the law enforcement community.

While there is no specified fee increase in the above amending language, please make no mistake about it, that is what would ensue, as that members of the law enforcement community have been vocally and openly coveting additional revenue for years.

Perhaps a more reasoned approach would be to determine the actual administrative costs of conducting a background investigation PRIOR to giving the issuing agencies carte blanche to charge what they will.

Should this language remain and gain your support to pass it out of the Assembly, it will be considered an anti-gun vote despite the attributes contained in this bill.

For this reason, I ask that you either remove the afore-mentioned language or you vote no on AB 282.

Cordially,

Carrie Herbertson
State Liaison
National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action

Well, this got Johnny O’s dander up. On Tuesday he fired back the following email response to Ms. Herbertson, essentially telling the gun rights lobbyist that she’s an irresponsible dumbass who doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about:

Subject: RE: AB 282 Oppose on Third Read

Ms. Herberstson,

I am a strong supporter of gun-owner rights, have been endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) for over a decade, and, as you know, I myself am a Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit holder. I have sponsored and supported pro-gun legislation throughout my career at the Nevada Assembly, and am sponsoring AB282 to further the interest of Nevada’s gun owners and to strengthen Nevadans’ 2nd Amendment rights.

AB282 would permit categorical CCW permit qualification for semiautomatic firearms, provide an exemption from the Brady check for each firearm purchase where a purchaser holds a valid CCW permit, allow for carrying of firearms in state parks consistent with State law, and ensure that certain information about CCW permit holders remains confidential. It is astounding to me that the NRA would oppose a bill that would provide significant reform in favor of gun owners.

You have expressed opposition to the language addressing permit renewal fees, but that concern is unwarranted. Your email to NRA members incorrectly claimed that AB282 would leave the cost of permit renewal up to the discretion of the issuing authority. That is not the case. AB282 limits the permit renewal fee to the actual cost of obtaining the background check report.

Nevadans may currently renew CCW permits for a $25 fee by completing applications and providing fingerprints, but a background check is not required. As stated on the record, the federal government does not accept fingerprints-only for CCW permit renewal, and only requiring fingerprints for permit renewal would jeopardize Nevada’s reciprocity with other states. Currently, due to federal requirements, CCW permit holders are required to undergo a Brady background check and pay an additional $25 fee every time a new firearm is purchased.

Under AB282, if Nevada’s CCW permit holders obtain a background check report from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) upon permit renewal, they would no longer be subject to the Brady background check and $25 fee for each firearm purchase. Instead, they would only pay for the cost of obtaining the background check report – currently at $51.25 or $40.25, depending on paper or electronic submission, plus the $25 Brady check, for a total of about $75 – once every 5 years, no matter how many guns are purchased. No more Brady check, no waiting, and no more $25 fee for each gun purchase. Just $75 for 5 years. In emails to the Nevada Assembly, you voiced concerns that you are unaware of the actual cost of NICS background checks. It is unclear to me why that information would not be known to a representative of the NRA.

You suggested setting the fee at a certain amount in statute, but your home state may be better suited to frequently revising its permit fees as costs increase or decrease. California, after all, has the “luxury” of long, annual legislative sessions. However, Nevada’s legislative session occurs once every two years and lasts only 120 days – requiring the Legislature to prospectively address changes that may occur over a biennium. Setting the permit fee at the amount of the actual cost to obtain a background check report – and no more – allows Nevada to pass any savings on to permit holders if costs decrease, and prevents the State from incurring debt in the case of a cost increase (you may have heard that Nevada is currently addressing its budget problem, which I do not wish to exacerbate).

AB282 would not permit unlimited fee increases for permit renewal. The language used for renewal fees is the same language in existing statute for initial permit applications. It is language that is traditionally used in Nevada statute to limit fees to actual costs incurred, and is not discretionary. As I have heard of no complaints about exorbitant initial permit application fees, I find it unlikely that the statutory language that has worked without issue for many years would suddenly become a barrier to gun owners’ rights. It is unfortunate that you now oppose AB282 due to a lack of understanding of a phrase used in the bill.

AB282 presents a tremendous opportunity for Nevada’s citizens, but the confusion your emails caused among the NRA’s members and members of the Legislature almost single-handedly destroyed what could be the most successful legislative session for Nevada’s gun owners.

I am disappointed that you did not talk to me before sending inaccurate information to your membership and to Nevada’s legislators. As you know, I am available to meet, or talk on the phone if you aren’t able to come down from Sacramento. If you had just called, we could have discussed why the language is drafted as it is. I hope that in future, you will contact me or any other legislator in a similar situation.

Sincerely,

John Oceguera
Speaker of the Assembly
Nevada Assembly

Can’t wait to see Ms. Herbertson’s response. I can’t help but think that when it comes to this debate over Second Amendment legislation, Johnny O is bringing a knife to a gunfight.