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.
April 23, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washoe County Republican Party
Washoe County Republican Party Central Committee Elects New Slate of Officers
Reno, NV – The Washoe County Republican Party (WCRP), Central Committee voted by acclamation to elect Party officers for 2021-22. The newly elected officers are Michael Kadenacy – Chairman, Phyllis Westrup – Secretary, John Carey – Vice Chairman, and Daron McDonald – Treasurer.
Michael Kadenacy begins his third term as Chairman as does Phyllis Westrup as Secretary. Also elected were John Carey who replaces Michael Jack as Vice Chairman, and Daron McDonald who replaces Sandra Linares as Treasurer.
In responding to a request for comment Chairman Kadenacy said, “first I would like to thank Michael Jack and Sandra Linares for their service to the Washoe County Republican Party. They both served well and were integral in helping the County Republican Party through a very difficult election cycle.”
“I would also like to thank the County Central Committee on behalf of Phyllis, John, Daron and myself, for the opportunity to serve over the next two years. “We have much work to do and with this team of professionals, along with our many volunteers, we will get the job done!”
By Sam Kumar
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.
By Mark Leonard
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.