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.
In the 2020 election cycle, in a special session, in the middle of the night, using COVID related emergency powers, by a partisan vote in both chambers, Nevada’s Democrat legislators passed AB4. This bill allowed for a mostly mail-in ballot and legalized a process called ballot harvesting, which was until then a felony. Ballot harvesting allowed non-family members including party workers to collect and turn in ballots. In the current legislative session, Assembly Bill AB321 attempts to make most of those “emergency” provisions permanent. There are far more important reforms that the state legislature should focus on instead of blindly mailing ballots to anyone without it even being requested, and this column outlines some of those reforms.
Proof of Citizenship: Contrary to what most readers may consider to be common sense, Nevada does not require proof of citizenship for voter registration. All you have to do, is sign a document stating that you are a citizen. Given the fact that voter registration had expanded in just the past couple of years to include same day registration and motor voter registration, proof of citizenship should be at the top of the list of election reforms.
Picture ID: Before a ballot is issued at a polling station, the voter should present a picture ID. The picture ID merely identifies the person as someone who he/she claims he/she is and does not establish citizenship and eligibility to vote. Thus, picture ID is meaningless without implementing proof of citizenship requirement outlined in the previous section. As readers are probably aware, non-citizens, and even persons in this country illegally can obtain a picture ID. The state should provide voter IDs free of cost to all legally registered voters.
Absentee Ballots only with ID: Absentee balloting is often confused with mail-in balloting. Mail-in balloting, as implemented in the 2020 cycle, results in ballots being mailed to anyone on the voter roll (Clark County even sent ballots to voters classified as inactive, which means that voter no longer lives at that address). In contrast, Absentee ballots are only sent out if the voter has requested it. While absentee ballots have been legal in Nevada for as long as one can remember, and should continue to be legal, a copy of Voter ID should accompany the absentee ballot for it to be accepted.
Signature Verification: Signature verification should be real. As Las Vegas Review Journal columnist explains in his column, right now, the signature verification is a joke. Joecks ran a test and the system accepted just about anything as a signature. I strongly recommend reading his column by clicking on the link. Signature verification machines should be properly tested to ensure they are accurately accepting valid signatures and rejecting invalid signatures before accepting the ballot.
Same Day Results: We currently have a system that allows for absentee ballots (you can request an absentee ballot for just one election, for all elections during a single election year, or you can request to become a permanent absentee voter), early voting (for 14 days) and election day voting. There are both ample time and options for anyone wanting to vote, to vote. If your ballot is not received by 7pm on election day, you ballot should not count. Votes trickling in for over a week after election day, with the lead changing several times during those nine days, does not engender confidence in the election process.
One final point: To argue that asking for an ID is racist is pure nonsense. Simple activities like buying tobacco/alcohol, cashing a check, getting COVID vaccine, all require a valid picture ID. Are all those activities an expression of racism? If our founding fathers shed their blood to gain us the right to vote, and our young men die in overseas wars to preserve that right, the least we can do is to get off our rear ends and get a picture ID to exercise that right.
As a constitutional conservative, I believe that the Second Amendment is at the heart of all of our other God-given rights. As a gun owner with a CCW, I consider it my responsibility to be well-trained on the use of my firearms, and to be well-educated on the history and significance of the Second Amendment. I recently had an experience that reinforced both areas: I took a 4-day Defensive Handgun course at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute outside Pahrump, NV.
Front Sight is on 550 acres of desert land about a 25-minute drive from the center of Pahrump. They have about 50 different ranges, and teach handgun, rifle, and shotgun courses focused on defensive use. They teach somewhere between 30,000 to 50,000 students per year.
Taking a course at Front Sight is no vacation. Desert conditions vary from extremely hot to cold, wet, and windy. This was my second course at Front Sight, and just like the first experience, I found all of the staff professional, courteous, and friendly.
We had about 400 people taking different classes that week, and I was pleasantly surprised at the demographic makeup of the students. Yes, there were a bunch of us who were in our 50s and 60s, but there were maybe 20+ teenagers including a 12-year old boy, and maybe another 60 or more people in their 20s and 30s. And there were some people in their 80s. I estimate that around 40% of the students were female. There were a lot of families.
Out of the gate, head trainer Brad Ackman emphasized that the purpose of the training was to enable the students to be able to recognize threats, avoid confrontations if possible, and if violence was inevitable, to know how to stop the threat. That was the theme throughout the training.
We were all divided into groups of 35-40 people and assigned a particular range with its own set of instructors. Our group of students had two police officers from Cincinnati, at least one teenager, and a woman who appeared to be in her 80s, so it was quite a mix. Our head instructor was a woman from Minnesota who was a bartender in her regular job. We also had 2 instructors with significant firearms training experience. The cool thing about this training is that all the instructors demonstrated their shooting skills prior to having us begin our training. They were all amazingly accurate and fast.
The first day was focused on basics: safe handling of our guns, loading and unloading, and using our holsters. The instructors kept a close eye on all of us, and taught us with professionalism and with humor. After our afternoon on the range, we went back to the classroom and were treated to a discussion on the Second Amendment from Rick Green, a former Texas congressman who now teaches the Constitution and trains young people full time. It was crystal clear that the founders of our nation regarded the Second Amendment as a God given right that was critically important to defending our liberty.
The next two days built on the foundation from the first day, as we began to shoot from 3, 5, 7, 10, and 15 yards, but we also learned how to quickly clear malfunctions and reload. On the third day, time-pressure for shooting and clearing malfunctions was added, and we also went through a house-clearing simulation which got the adrenaline pumping. On the last day, the morning was devoted to practicing for our timed skills test, followed by the actual skills test before lunch. Only those who were very fast and accurate were able to take more advanced courses, which I estimate only about 8-9 people achieved. I wasn’t in that group, but my scores were definitely better than the last time I took the course. After lunch, we had more drills and exercises that were simulation based, requiring more advanced decision making under pressure, including hostage situations. I estimate that during the course, we pulled the trigger on our handguns about 1,500 times, of which perhaps 475 were live rounds.
I highly recommend that all Second Amendment supporters who are gun owners, especially those with CCWs, make the time for this intense mental and physical training.
Those of us in the greater Reno area might forget that Washoe County, while only 40 miles at its widest, extends some 200 miles to the north. Up there, beyond the Black Rock Desert, Washoe County shares a border with Lake County, Oregon. Population, around 8,000. Lake County is very large and very republican, with almost 80% of the vote in 2020 going for President Trump. Surrounding counties are similar in size, population density and political leaning.
Something interesting is going on in Lake County, and in the surrounding rural areas. They are trying to become a part of Idaho. https://www.greateridaho.org/ If successful, Washoe County will end up sharing a border not with Oregon, but with a conservative mega-state nearly the size of Texas, extending from the Pacific Ocean to Yellowstone National Park, and from the Sacramento River Valley to the US/Canada Border. That’s a lot of Freedom, right on our doorstep.
2016 Electoral Heat Map and Notional Outline of Greater Idaho
Skeptics and detractors abound. We’ve all seen this before, I know. The State of Jefferson movement comes to mind. This effort, however, might have some legs to it – the battles are already being fought, and the inches are already being won. In November 2020, enough signatures had been collected in four Oregon counties to put on the ballot a measure to compel their county commissions to discuss the idea. Two of these measures, in Union and Jefferson Counties, passed – the others failed by a small margin. Earlier this week, proponents of the effort briefed a joint committee of the Idaho State Legislature, and in May, just weeks from now, five more Oregon counties, including our neighbors in Lake County, will vote on similar measures. With the relatively low population in each of these counties, the strong conservative base, and the continued leftward drift of Portland-dominated Oregon politics, we can expect many of these efforts will be successful.
It’s not unreasonable to go where you are treated best. Our friends to the north are trying to take their land and their counties with them. Keep a close eye on these local Oregon elections next month, learn more at https://www.greateridaho.org/.
Trivia: it looks to me like Washoe County is bordered by 12 other counties. I have yet to find another county that shares a border with that many other counties; most others are bordered by four to seven other counties. Can you find any counties that share a border with 12 or more other counties? United States – Counties – MapChart
The Nevada GOP issued a statement recently that they found evidence of 122,918 fraudulent votes. I did some research of my own and I found quite a different story which Nevada Republicans deserve to hear.
The NVGOP identified 42,284 duplicate votes purportedly using three data points. When I ran a data query using the same three data points, I came up with 3,058 potential duplicate votes. That is 39,226 less duplicate votes than they reported. I believe they actually used only two data points, last name, and DOB, to obtain the 42,284 duplicate votes.
Additionally, they stated that 31,643 votes were flagged for “ID Required”. However, there is no data to suggest these “flagged” voters actually voted. I identified only 171 voters that were “flagged” that actually voted. If you deduct the 171 actual “flagged” voters who voted from the 31,643 “flagged only” votes, the number is 31, 472. If you deduct the adjusted numbers of 39,226 and 31,472 (70,698), there remains 52,220 potential fraudulent votes.
In order to verify the remaining 52,220 votes in question further data and legwork would be required to substantiate fraud.
My conclusion is the claim of 122,918 fraudulent votes is likely an overstatement. The 52,220 may be fraudulent but a verification would need to be completed through further investigation.
Note: The data team for the Washoe County Republican Party verified the numbers presented in this article are accurate.
Last week marked the one-year anniversary of Governor Sisolak’s 30-day shutdown to flatten the curve. As we know, this was followed by a series of stay-at-home orders, park closures, mask mandates and a host of other restrictions through executive orders. Today, a year later, many businesses are still forced to operate at 50% capacity. Starting May 1, the Governor has announced that he may allow local governments to determine the gathering and capacity sizes.
Let’s review the genesis of these restrictions. We were told the restrictions were for two weeks…. Just two weeks. Then it was to flatten the curve. Then it was about hospital capacity. Then it was about deaths. Now it is about cases. Stay home, save lives said the bumper sticker. It’s the science, claimed the networks. While the goal posts have consistently shifted, the impact has been the same: High unemployment, where Nevada sits at 8.1% and is now tied for 6th in the country.
The question is, was it all worth the sacrifice? Did Nevada save lives with these restrictions? Let us look at the data to see if shutdowns made a difference. The United States has a population of around 333 million based on the most recent estimates. There have been 507,227 COVID deaths as of March 6th. That calculates to 1.55 COVID deaths per 1000 population. Nevada, which has had significant restrictions, has a greater than average death rate at 1.66 COVID deaths per 1000 population. Compare that with Florida and Texas where the businesses have been mostly open. Florida’s COVID deaths per 1000 population is 1.37 and Texas clocks in at 1.62, better than Nevada in both cases. As we look across all states, the data is mixed at best, and there is no significant difference in mortality rates between states which shutdown and states which did not. Given that information, what is the rationale to continue with restrictions which cripple the economy?
Nevada’s mandate to partially or fully shutdown businesses completely ignores the more detailed data that has been available for quite some time. We can all understand a panic-induced shutdown in March 2020 when we did not have enough data to draw conclusions. Starting last fall, however, we had plenty of data presenting solid patterns which should have been informing our decisions. For instance, let’s review the school closures. The under-18 years-old population in the US is around 75 million. Total COVID deaths in that age group across the entire nation stands at 216. That is under three deaths in a million. Explain to me again why we closed our schools? Now, let’s discuss business closures. The national COVID mortality rate for the working age population, under-65, is 0.00039. Does the mortality rate of 0.00039 warrant a government mandated shutdown? I recognize that individual circumstances may vary, and if one considers his/her risk to be high, he/she should be allowed to stay home and no one should lose their job as a consequence. (Note: Data in the above two paragraphs come from US Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control)
One final point: In addition to ravaging Nevada’s economy, Nevada has also squandered a precious opportunity to attract businesses exiting California. Businesses moving out of California are skipping clear over Reno/Sparks and moving straight to places like Salt Lake City, which is #1 in the nation in population growth, clocking in at a whopping 12.3% growth since last April (Source: LinkedIn).
With strong executive leadership and utilization of data, Nevada could have kept schools and businesses open with minimal restrictions, created a positive business environment, captured exiting California businesses, gained high paying jobs, and broadened its tax base. While we have lost a good chunk of that opportunity, let’s at least try to salvage what’s left. Let businesses decide on whether to stay open and let the employees and customers decide if they feel comfortable returning. Let us end the broad government mandated restrictions, open Nevada, and let people live their lives. It’s long overdue!
Sam Kumar is a guest writer and former Chairman for the Washoe County Republican Party.