Republicans split on Nevada’s Question 1, poll finds

A poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal shows likely Republican voters in Nevada opposing the background check ballot measure 49-39 percent.

Support among Democratic voters surged to 73 percent, the poll shows. Only 20 percent opposed and 7 percent “didn’t know.”

Overall, 58 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed supported Question 1 and 32 percent opposed. Another 12 percent didn’t know or didn’t answer.

“In this case, the Democrats are for it and the Republicans are kind of split, which means it’s going to pass unless the Republicans go against it,” said Anthony Williams, special projects director of Bendixen & Amandi International, in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal published Monday.

The newspaper reports the company conducted the poll in English and Spanish between Sept. 27 and Sept. 29. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Question 1 would require background checks for most private sales and transfers in Nevada. First-time violators would face a gross misdemeanor charge, a $1,000 fine and one year in prison.

Prominent gun violence prevention groups — namely former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety — bankrolled the Question 1 campaign as a way to close the “gun show loophole” in Nevada and keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers and the mentally ill, among other prohibited persons under federal law.

Bloomberg’s group donated close to $4 million to Nevadans for Background Checks, the political action committee leading the campaign at the state level.

Joe Duffy, the group’s campaign manager, wasn’t surprised by the poll results. “The polling consistently shows strong support for common sense measures like Question 1 because Nevadans know that background checks will save lives and make our state safer,” he said Tuesday.

The latest poll comes less than a week after a town hall at the city’s Mob Museum, where Dr. William Sousa, professor and director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, said public surveys about closing background check “loopholes” receive high degrees of support because the questions asked rarely capture “the nuances of all the arguments.”

“The questions asked on these surveys are very broad,” he said. “If the question was presented in a different way, people might answer a little differently.”

The most recent survey indicates public support for the ballot measure has dropped 8 percent since July, when a KTNV-TV 13 Action News/Rasmussen Reports poll of 750 likely Nevada voters showed 66 percent favored Question 1 and 28 percent opposed.

That same month 16 out of 17 Nevada sheriffs came out against Question 1 because of its multiple perceived flaws — including an added burden on law enforcement and law-abiding gun owners and a failure to address the role mental health plays in mass shootings.

The National Rifle Association sponsored commercials last month featuring Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong, Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro and Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen, along with Attorney General Paul Laxalt, urging voters to “side with law enforcement” and reject the ballot measure.

“They got it from another criminal associate,” said Catherine Mortensen, an NRA spokeswoman. “They got it from a family member. They got it through a straw purchase. That’s where they send someone else in to buy it for them. … These criminals are going around the background check system already.”

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