Blending a couple of disparate recent news stories could produce a solution to a situation some California legislators find disturbing. Let’s start with the answer and work backward: California should buy Nevada, or maybe lease it for a while.

Step back. Think of the recent noise raised about President Trump’s suggestion that the United States buy Greenland and mix that idea together with the effort of a number of California legislators to reach out to Nevada counterparts to come up with a way to stop guns legally purchased in the Silver State that end up in the Golden State.

A wild and crazy idea, the president had, said many (or most) commentators. Well, dear legislators, I offer another wild and crazy idea to advance your cause displayed over these many months of telling the rest of America how to live by passing laws prohibiting official travel to states because you don’t like their laws or suing the federal government for the same reason.

Don’t negotiate with Nevada–offer to buy it!

In a letter signed by 27 California Democratic legislators last week addressed to the Nevada Assembly Speaker, a proposal was floated to have the legislative bodies of the two states meet to toughen gun laws in Nevada to California standards. The idea is to prevent the flow of the more easily attained weapons coming into California. Of particular concern to the California legislators is that Nevada, unlike California, does not prohibit the sale of assault weapons or large magazines.

A gun legally purchased in Nevada was used in the Gilroy shootings earlier this month. The Los Angeles Times cited a federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report that said since 2017 more than 1,500 guns recovered in California were traced to Nevada.

Since California leaders have taken such pride in telling the national government and other states where they are wrong and how things should be done on a myriad of issues, making such an offer to a sister state is not out of character. 

But lecturing or even suggesting to another state how to run its business usually doesn’t go well.

While the idea of purchasing another land, whether Greenland or Nevada, seems absurd on the surface, ironically both ideas have some historical precedent. 

President Harry Truman suggested buying Greenland in 1946 for strategic reasons and a cash offer was put on the table. Truman wanted American bombers closer to the Soviet Union at the beginning of the Cold War.

California, as it prepared to enter the Union, debated at its constitutional convention the idea of submitting state boundary lines that would encompass not only what is modern day Nevada, but also the current states of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. I told that story before. You can find it here

A constitutional convention committee at one point adopted the plan, but it was later overturned and the current borderlines of the state were submitted to Congress when California applied for admission to the Union.

That was then and hardly a solid enough guide to think Nevada is on the market. 

Would leasing work? California leaders seem to be determined to have their brand, euphemistically labeled “California values,” be exported to other states and the nation as a whole. If purchasing another state is out of the question, how about a loan program or gift from the vast California surplus to convince neighboring states to adopt California rules?

If they haven’t thought of that idea yet in Sacramento, they will.