Senate introduces background check bill

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Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson and Judiciary Chairman Yvanna Cancela on Monday introduced legislation designed to fix the flawed firearms background checks initiative that voters approved in 2016. They were joined by their Assembly counterparts, Speaker Jason Frierson and Judiciary Chairman Steve Yeager along with 31 other Democrats in the legislature. The bill will be heard Tuesday by the judiciary committees meeting in joint session. The digest of SB143 points out that the Background Check Act could not be implemented because it required the firearms dealer contact the National Instant Criminal Background Check System directly before a private party transfer or sale. The FBI refused to allow that direct contact. SB143 removes the requirement to use the federal background check system. Instead, it requires a licensed firearms dealers to conduct a background check on private firearm sales or transfers through the same agency that dealer currently uses to background some one buying a weapon from his or her store. The original goal of the initiative was to capture firearms sales that happen at gun shows or from unlicensed dealers over the Internet. According to the bill, “due to this loophole millions of guns exchange hands each year in the United States without a background check.” The legal change would allow Nevada’s Criminal History Repository to conduct the background checks. The bill also prohibits the state’s criminal history repository from charging a fee to conduct a background check on a person wishing to get a firearm from another private or unlicensed person. “We have the right to bear arms but with rights come responsibilities including the responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons and domestic abusers,” the legislation states. It contains exemptions for certain gun transfers among law enforcement agencies and immediate family members such as from a father to his son or daughter. The penalty for violating the background check law would be a gross misdemeanor for a first offense and a Category C felony for a second or subsequent violation. Since the Background Checks Act was approved through a voter initiative, its language cannot be changed or repealed by lawmakers and the governor for three full years after passage. That means SB143, if approved, cannot take effect until after November 22, 2019. The bill states that if passed, it would become law January 2, 2020.


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