Nevadans Urge Congressman Heck To Clarify His Position On Bipartisan Background Checks Bill

Jul 11, 2013, 14:03 ET from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Like Senator Dean Heller, Heck Said He Supports Background Checks in Principle But Won't Endorse or Co-Sponsor Bipartisan U.S. House Bill to Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands;

88% of Residents in Heck's District Support Expanding Background Checks;

LAS VEGAS, July 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Survivors of gun violence, gun owners and other members of the community are calling on Congressman Joe Heck to explain where he stands in the ongoing debate over closing dangerous loopholes in the background check system.  86 % of Nevadans and 88% of residents in Heck's district support background checks for all gun sales.  Congressman Heck has not yet joined more than 180 lawmakers in co-sponsoring important bipartisan background checks legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives despite issuing support for universal background checks just five months ago.

In February, Heck told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he supports the principle of background checks, but he has since refused to directly comment on how he would vote on the bill sponsored by NRA A-rated Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey to extend these checks to cover commercial gun sales. Despite his purported support, Heck has thus far not endorsed nor co-sponsored a corresponding background checks bill in the House introduced by Congressmen Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA).

"As a gun owner, I understand that background checks save lives and only strengthen our Second Amendment rights by keeping guns out of the wrong hands," said constituent Ron Nelsen. "88% of us in Joe Heck's district support common-sense background checks on all private gun sales."

"While we were pleased when Heck claimed to support universal background checks 'in principle' back in February, he has since refused to voice his support for Manchin-Toomey or co-sponsor the corresponding King-Thompson bill in the House," added Nelsen. "Sadly, we've seen with Dean Heller that support for background checks 'in principle' doesn't necessarily translate to actual support for the legislation that make them a reality." 

It remains far too easy for criminals, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous individuals – people who know they can't pass a background check – to skirt the law and obtain guns by purchasing them online or at gun shows, where background checks are not required under federal law. The Manchin-Toomey bill – which was supported by a bipartisan majority of U.S. senators – would have closed this dangerous loophole by extending background checks to cover commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows and online.

Rates of gun crime in Nevada are higher than average: Nevada is one of 13 states where firearm deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths[1]; over the last decade, women in Nevada were 46 percent more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other states[2]; and in an average week, Nevada police receive reports of 25 aggravated assaults with firearms.[3]

Evidence demonstrates that background checks help save lives. In states that already require background checks for all handgun sales:

  • Gun trafficking was 48 percent lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all handgun sales.[4]
  • The rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38 percent lower than in other states, while the rate murdered by other means was nearly identical.[5]
  • The firearm suicide rate was 49 percent lower than in other states, even though people committed suicide in other ways at almost precisely the same rate.[6]
  • Thirty-nine percent fewer law enforcement officers were shot to death with handguns.[7]

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Since its creation in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 members to more than 950 mayors from across the country. We have more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making us the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country.  The bipartisan coalition, co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting communities by holding gun offenders accountable; demanding access to crime gun trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to get guns.  Learn more at

[1] CDC, Fatal Injury Reports, 2010.
[2] Female gun homicide rate 2001-10. See: Center For American Progress, "America Under The Gun."
[3] FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, 2011.
[4] Daniel Webster, Jon Vernick, and Maria Bulzacchelli, "Effects of State-Level Firearm Seller Accountability Policies on Firearm Trafficking," Journal of Urban Health, July 2009.
[5] U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2010.
[6] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2005) [cited 2012 Dec. 20].
[7] Federal Bureau of Investigation. LEOKA Database, 2001-2011 (Accessed Mar. 2013).

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SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns