CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A gun-rights advocacy group announced Monday the formation of a political action committee that hopes to unseat a state senator who failed in his push to require background checks for gun purchases.
Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, was the primary sponsor of SB221 that was passed by the 2013 Legislature and vetoed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.
The bill came about in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. It would have required all purchasers of firearms to undergo a background check. It also would have required courts to more quickly report people found mentally incompetent and imposed new requirements on health care professionals to report people believed to be dangerous to themselves or others.
"Nevada gun owners have been silent too long, and because of our silence, state Sen. Justin Jones almost succeeded in disarming Nevadans," Don Turner, president of Nevada Firearms Coalition, said in a statement announcing the PAC.
"Nevadans can't take our Second Amendment rights for granted, so we created this PAC at the request of the Nevada gun owners to make sure we use our voice in the future," he said, adding another goal is to counter any gun-control efforts by Mayors Against Illegal Guns founded by former New York City Michael Bloomberg.
Jones, a Las Vegas attorney, was elected in 2012 to fill the unfinished term of Elisabeth Halseth, who resigned midterm. As a freshman, Jones shepherded the gun background-check bill through the Legislature, where it passed in a party-line 11-10 vote in the Senate. In the Assembly, it was approved 23-19, with four members of the Democratic majority siding with Republicans to oppose it.
On Monday, Jones said the bill was "common-sense legislation" to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
"As a father and as a legislator, it is my responsibility to do everything I can to keep our children safe," he said in statement to The Associated Press, adding he will "continue to work diligently on behalf of my constituents."
In his veto message, Sandoval said that while the bill had some "worthy components," requiring universal background checks would "constitute an erosion" of Nevadans' Second Amendment rights.
Democrats in District 9 hold a 4,200 voter-registration advantage over the GOP. But members of the conservative Independent American Party account for nearly 2,800 voters in the district, and more than 11,000 are registered as nonpartisan.
Republican leaders are backing Las Vegas attorney Becky Harris to challenge Jones. Harris ran for the Assembly in 2012, losing to the Democrat candidate, Andy Eisen.