By Sam Kumar
Following last week’s deadly shooting in Indianapolis, President Biden called gun violence a “national embarrassment”. He called for “commonsense gun violence prevention legislation like Universal Background checks and a ban of weapons of war”.
While I share President Biden’s frustration with the situation and the meaningless loss of lives, I am not clear on specifically what the President is trying to accomplish or how he plans to accomplish it. To review some statistics from the FBI, for the year 2019 (the most recent year for which such statistics are available), 6,368 homicides were attributed to handguns, 364 to rifles and 1,476 to knives and cutting instruments. Is he talking about preventing homicides by handguns or rifles? (Most homicides are from handguns but the far fewer homicides by rifles although they grab the most media attention). Is President Biden merely proposing a ban on purchases or is he proposing confiscation? Since Background Checks have been in place for decades, and you cannot buy a firearm without a Background Check, what does he mean by “Universal Background Checks”? And, what does he mean by “weapons of war”?
There are approximately 857 million firearms owned by civilians around the world, out of which 393 million are owned by Americans according to the annual survey by Swiss firm Small Arms Survey. These numbers are from 2018, the most recent year for which the survey is available. Since then, firearms ownership has exploded in the US and we are probably clear over 400 million firearms at this time. Even if he were to magically stop all firearms sales and manufacturing starting tomorrow, what does the president propose we do with the 400 million in circulation?
Let us assume that the President is serious about drastically reducing gun related homicides, has solutions in hand, and is not merely posturing. In 2020, Chicago had 769 homicides. Why not try his solutions out in Chicago? The Governor of Illinois is a Democrat, the Mayor of Chicago is a Democrat, and the 50-member Chicago City Council does not have even a single Republican Alderman. Heck, President Biden can even recruit his buddy President Obama to implement the solutions in the former President’s hometown! Whatever President Biden wants to do, he can do it and prove to all of us that his solutions are practical and produce results. If the guns are coming from neighboring states, then he could possibly set up check points. If he cannot successfully monitor a few hundred miles of interstate border, how is he going to monitor 2000 miles of US-Mexico border?
My rhetorical point in the previous paragraph notwithstanding, the fact remains that there are no acceptable solutions that will both have sufficient support and will produce results. Identifying who will commit a crime in the future is nearly impossible in almost all the cases. While phrases like “commonsense gun laws”, “banning weapons of war” and “Assault Rifle ban” are appealing bumper sticker material, they don’t solve problems.
One final point: Gun control is complicated, and the more you get into details, the less support specific policy have historically had. While we are all for solutions which will prevent deaths, such solutions should be grounded in reality. Before we go about issuing executive orders or passing legislation, we should model the legislation to see which of the incidents in the past would have been prevented if that legislation would have been in place at the time. Without such retroactive analysis to prove effectiveness, Executive Orders and legislation are just activities that appease the base and check the box but don’t accomplish anything other than to place hurdles for law abiding citizens to purchase firearms. President Biden should stop setting unreasonable expectations and stirring up his base with vague and unimplementable generalities.
By Ron Knecht
I recently penned a Nevada water white paper for Fred Simon, MD, running for Nevada Governor. Here are highlights.
Colorado River annual flows are over-allocated among seven states, and reservoir storage in Lakes Powell and Mead is shrinking. Hence, water allocations under the 1922 Colorado River Compact may be renegotiated or litigated in coming years. Nevada needs to aggressively protect its interests in the Colorado River waters that supply 90 percent of Clark County’s needs.
More interstate water rights have been allocated by the “Law of the River” (rules, regulations and laws, including the Compact, governing the Colorado River) than there is real water on a reliable, continuous basis to satisfy them. Fortunately, not all those water rights are currently in continuous use, especially in the Upper Colorado Basin, leaving some margin, which is rapidly diminishing with population growth and new development.
The Compact and a treaty with Mexico have allocated 16.5-million allocated acre-feet. The problem is that tree-ring analyses suggest that the actual yearly flow over the last 1,200 years has been 14.6-million acre-feet. And we’re currently in a long-term drought.
Fortunately, Lakes Mead and Powell reservoirs can hold a combined 56-million acre-feet. But diversions and increased evaporation due to a Colorado River Basin drought since 2000 have reduced water levels in them to less than half their capacity. And Upper Basin states, especially Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, are beginning to use more of their allocations.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) has asked the Legislature to outlaw water-guzzling ornamental grass that people almost never walk on (“non-functional turf” in road medians, housing developments and office parks). This unprecedented measure would reduce annual water use by 15 percent, allowing for some growth while remaining below use limits dictated by the Law of the River or falling Lake Mead water levels.
These savings would buy time to develop new conservation measures, perhaps greater Colorado River allocations, and even restoration of Lake Mead water storage to historic levels.
Clark County’s bedroom communities have embraced conservation measures, including aggressive monitoring of sprinklers and leaky irrigation systems. Since 2003, SNWA has prohibited developers from planting green front lawns in new subdivisions. It also offers owners of existing properties very generous rebates up to $3 per square foot to tear out sod.
But 2020 was among our driest years in history, when Las Vegas suffered a record 240 days without measurable rainfall. Although a ban on ornamental grass may draw resistance from master-planned communities, officials believe homebuyers from wetter regions now accept such limitations.
By Sam Kumar
The Washoe County Republican party held its elections last month, and both the Chairman and Secretary were re-elected for a third consecutive two-year term. Such stability is rare in Republican party politics at the local level, and these results bode well for the party heading into the 2022 election cycle.
In party politics, there is no such thing as an off-season. Every alternate November, immediately after the election, the Assembly and Senate caucuses convene to elect their respective leadership. January and February mark the fundraising dinners for the county parties (Lincoln Day dinner on the Republican side and Jackson-Jefferson dinner on the Democrat side, or whatever it is their elevated wokeness will allow them to call it this week!). In odd numbered years, February through May is the legislative session; in even numbered years Spring is for the filing period and primary campaigns, followed by the county and state conventions. Between these major events, you have committee meetings, central committee meetings, fundraising, candidate recruitment, etc. The cycle then repeats in a two-year cadence.
While the events of each cycle are fairly identical, each has its own set of dynamics attached to it. For instance, the 2022 cycle presents an abundance of opportunities for the Republicans in Nevada. The Republicans are two seats away from a majority in the state Senate. While an Assembly majority is six seats away, redistricting and a good crop of candidates could make for some interesting races. Also up for grabs are four Congressional seats, one US Senate seat, all six state-wide constitutional offices along with several county-wide and non-partisan offices. In a non-presidential election cycle, the party in the White House typically loses ground across the country. I am optimistic that it will be a blockbuster year for Republicans in Nevada.
While the focus of the broader populace is typically at the national level, there is plenty of action at the state and local level where the county and state parties have a significant role to play. In recent election cycles, the Washoe County Republican Party has excelled in this space. There is no such thing as a non-partisan race as most voters identify themselves with one party and often vote for the candidate from that party with very few exceptions. A candidate’s ability to identify with a certain party can be the difference between winning and losing. Historically, thanks to Senator Reid’s funding and influence, the Democrat party has done an excellent job of elevating Democrat-leaning candidates for non-partisan offices to victory. In recent election cycles, however, the Washoe County Republican party (WCRP), under the leadership of Chairman Michael Kadenacy and Secretary Phyllis Westrup, has narrowed the gap significantly. Three slate mailers (two in Washoe and one in Clark county) and a heavy dose of radio ads in support of key candidates were all part of the stepped up WCRP efforts in 2020. The WCRP has also built a robust analytics and internship program which has targeted specific races and impacted the outcome throughout the state. For 2022, the party is planning to significantly expand its candidate support effort.
One final point: Washoe is one of a handful of bellwether counties in the country. Nevada’s rural counties, which lean hard right, cancel out Clark county, which leans left. Statewide races are essentially determined by Washoe. Win Washoe by two or more points, and you will most certainly win Nevada. Washoe is vitally important to Republican success statewide. With challenges like re-districting on the horizon, party stability in Washoe bodes well for Republican efforts in 2022. Advantage Republicans.