Nevada Governor Vetoes Gun Bill Despite Bloomberg's Threats

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on June 13 vetoed a bill requiring background checks for gun sales between private parties, telling the Las Vegas Sun that it "imposes unreasonable burdens and harsh penalties upon law-abiding Nevadans, while doing little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms."

Sandoval said the bill had a number of worthy elements, including prohibiting the possession of guns by anyone judged mentally ill. He also applauded a section that required courts to speed up reporting of mental health adjudications.

Sandoval made no secret that he would veto any bill mandating background checks for private firearms transactions, but in doing so, he enflamed the wrath of anti-gun groups that had lobbied for its passage, including Mayors Against Illegal Guns, led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which has pledged to finance election campaigns against officials such as Sandoval.

While proponents often cited results from a poll showing 86 percent of Nevadans favor background checks for private party gun sales, Sandoval's office said from June 6 through June 12 it received 152,995 calls opposing the gun bill and 27,465 in favor.

Sandoval also quoted from a letter from the Nevada Sheriffs' and Chiefs' Association that said mandatory background checks "on private sales place an unreasonable burden on law-abiding citizens, with the potential to make them criminals."

"It would be unenforceable by law enforcement. It is our opinion this bill would do little to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals," the NSCA letter stated.

Citing Sandoval's veto, Bloomberg called upon Democratic donors in New York to withdraw their financial support from any elected official who opposes gun control legislation, including four key Democrats whose re-election next year could determine if the party retains control of the Senate.

According to the New York Times, the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $30.4 million from New York donors in 2012, more than in any other state.

The four Democratic senators who sided with Republicans in defeating the Manchin-Toomey compromise background check bill -- Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota -- have raised more than $2.2 million from New York donors.

Bloomberg has already spent $350,000 on ads targeting Pryor. Begich, who also faces re-election in 2014, told the New York Times that Alaskans are not going to be very receptive to a Bloomberg-led attack.

"In Alaska, having a New York mayor tell us what to do? The guy who wants to ban Big Gulps?" Begich asked. "If anything, it might help me."