Question 1 campaign’s ‘Healthcare Coalition’ grows

Five groups joined the Question 1 campaign’s Healthcare Coalition Monday, citing the public cost of gunshot hospitalizations as a top reason for requiring background checks on private firearm sales and transfers in Nevada.

State data compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety in December 2015 shows Nevada hospitals spent $246 million on firearm injuries between 2005 and 2014. Public insurers and charities — with Medicaid leading the way — covered 54.5 percent of those costs. Two-thirds of injuries were classified as “assaultive,” meaning “deliberately inflicted by one person on another.”

In a statement released by Nevadans for Background Checks Monday, Nevada State Medical Association Executive Director Catherine O’Mara agreed studies “suggest” background checks reduce gun violence and will help “reduce the financial burden on the healthcare system.”

“NSMA acknowledges that Question 1 alone may not prevent all instances of gun violence,” O’Mara said. “This common sense measure which recognizes the right to lawfully and responsibly own a gun, will improve public health by closing the background check loophole.”

NSMA was joined in its support by the Nevada Public Health Association, the Crisis Call Center, the Nevada Psychiatric Association and the Service Employees International Union, which represents 17,000 healthcare and public service employees statewide.

“We believe it is essential to the health and well-being of our society and our patients to support efforts to decrease the opportunity for individuals who are at risk of perpetrating violence with firearms to easily obtain guns by avoiding criminal background checks,” said Lesley Dickson, executive director and state legislative representative of the Nevada Psychiatric Association. “Individuals with a history of domestic violence, felonies and civil commitment for a serious mental illness will be identified before buying a gun in all locations guns are now purchased.”

Academic researchers across the country have raised doubts about the statistical connection between reduced rates of gun violence and stricter gun laws, including universal background checks.

As previously reported by Guns.com, Dr. William Sousa, professor and director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, called the existing research regarding the effectiveness of background checks on preventing gun violence “muddy” and “limited” during a town hall forum about Question 1 at the Las Vegas Mob Museum last month.

“Most studies on this do not establish a causal connection between background checks and community violence,” he said. “The results are some of the studies show a correlation to lower homicides, but the catch is that most of these studies are really weak by social science standards. Correlation does not equal causation. Just because there are fewer gun-related officer deaths in states that close the loophole, that doesn’t mean closing the loophole led to fewer gun-related officer deaths … maybe it’s just a coincidence.”