State question 1: Background checks
Amendment to Title 15 of the Nevada Revised Statutes
Shall Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended to prohibit, except in certain circumstances, a person from selling or transferring a firearm to another person unless a federally-licensed dealer first conducts a federal background check on the potential buyer or transferee?
This ballot measure proposes to amend Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes to prohibit, except in certain defined circumstances, any person who is not a licensed dealer, importer, or manufacture of firearms from selling or transferring a firearm to another unlicensed person unless a licensed dealer first conducts a background check on the buyer or transferee. To request the required background check, the law would require both the seller/transferor and the buyer/transferee to appear jointly with the firearm before a federally licensed firearms dealer. The background check would be conducted using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the federally-licensed dealer would be able to charge a reasonable fee for conducting the background check and facilitating the firearm transfer between unlicensed persons.
The measure would establish various exemptions to the mandatory background check requirements, including:
The sale or transfer of a firearm by or to any law enforcement agency; To the extent he or she is acting within the course and scope of his or her employment and official duties, the sale or transfer of a firearm by or to any peace officer, security guard entitled to carry a weapon, member of the armed forces, and federal official;
The sale or transfer of an antique firearm;
The sale or transfer of a firearm between immediate family members, defined as spouses and domestic partners, as well as parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews, whether whole or half blood, adoption or step-relation; and
The transfer of a firearm to an executor, administrator, trustee, or personal representative of an estate or trust that occurs by operation of law upon the death of the former owner of the firearm.
Certain temporary transfers of a firearm without a background check would also be allowed under the measure, as long as the temporary transfer is to a person who is not prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm under state or federal law, the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee is prohibited from buying or possessing firearms under state or federal law, and the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee will use or intends to use the firearm in the commission of a crime. Allowable temporary transfers would include:
Temporary transfers required to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm;
Temporary transfers at an established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which the range is located;
Temporary transfers at a lawfully organized competition involving the use of a firearm;
Temporary transfers while participating in or practicing for a performance by an organized group that uses firearms as part of a public performance;
Temporary transfers while hunting or trapping if the transfer occurs in the area where hunting and trapping is legal and the transferee holds all licenses or permits required for such hunting or trapping; and
Temporary transfers while in the presence of the transferor.
Lastly, approval of this ballot measure would establish criminal penalties on an unlicensed person who sells or transfers one or more firearms to another unlicensed person in violation of the provisions of the measure. For the first conviction involving the sale or transfer of one or more firearms, the seller or transferor would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail, a fine up $1,000, or both imprisonment and a fine. For the second and each subsequent conviction, the seller or transferor would be guilty of a category C felony, which is punishable by imprisonment between one and five years in state prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.
A “Yes” vote would amend Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes to prohibit, except in certain circumstances, any person who is not a licensed dealer, importer, or manufacture of firearms from selling or transferring a firearm to another unlicensed person unless a licensed dealer first conducts a background check on the buyer or transferee.
A “No” vote would retain the provisions of Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes in their current form. These provisions currently allow, but do not require, a background check be performed on a firearm buyer or transferee before the private sale or transfer of a firearm.
Argument for passage
The Background Check Initiative
Vote yes on Question 1.
Vote yes on Question 1 and close the loophole that makes it easy for convicted felons, domestic abusers, and people with severe mental illness to buy guns without a criminal background check.
It is illegal for these dangerous people to buy guns. That’s why criminal background checks are required for every gun sale from a licensed dealer.
But no background check is required in Nevada if a person buys a gun from an unlicensed seller, including buying from a stranger they meet online or at a gun show.
Question 1 would create a level playing field where everyone would have to follow the same rules, whether they buy and sell at a gun store, at a gun show, or using the Internet.
Voting yes on Question 1 protects our rights and meets our responsibilities. We have the right to bear arms. And with rights come responsibilities, including the responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, and the severely mentally ill.
Question 1 won’t stop all gun violence — nothing will. But in states that require criminal background checks for all handgun sales, almost 50 percent fewer police are killed with handguns and about half as many women are shot to death by abusive partners.
Since 1980, over 50 percent of police officers murdered with guns in the line of duty in Nevada were shot by people who would have likely failed a background check.
There are more than 35,000 guns for sale in Nevada each year on just four websites — and no background check is required for most of these sales. Question 1 closes these loopholes.
No Nevada tax dollars will be used to conduct Question 1 background checks because the checks will be run by the FBI.
The Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers and Las Vegas Fraternal Order of Police — representing thousands of law enforcement officers — urge yes on Question 1.
Nevada doctors, crime victims, the Nevada Parent Teacher Association, and the Nevada State Education Association all agree — passing Question 1 will help save lives.
We need to close this dangerous loophole and make sure criminal background checks are required on all gun sales in Nevada. Please vote yes on Question 1.
Argument against passage
Question 1 is not what its supporters claim it is and goes well beyond sales to include loans, leases and gifts. Imagine a soldier being required to run a background check on their fiancé or roommate just to store their firearms in anticipation of an upcoming deployment. That’s exactly what this initiative will do. Or maybe you’d like to loan your firearm to a friend of 20 years to go target shooting on BLM land. Again, Question 1 would mandate that you run a background check on this trusted friend.
Question 1 goes even further than that.
If passed, this new law would require Nevadans to appear jointly at a federal firearms dealer who may charge a fee anytime they relinquish possession of a firearm and to have it returned.
Failure to do so will constitute a serious crime and up to a year in prison. This complex, unenforceable, and overly burdensome change places more bureaucratic restrictions on law abiding citizens while not impacting criminals.
Under current law, federal firearms dealers are required to run a background check when selling a firearm regardless of where the transfer takes place.
Question 1 would expand this to include private transfers of a firearm, all to be conducted through a federal firearms dealer and subject to fees.
In the case of loaning a firearm to your friend for a target shooting trip, this would mean each of you making two separate trips to a federal firearms dealer and two separate fees just to loan and return the firearm.
There are no limits to the fees that can be charged for the two mandated trips.
If supporters of Question 1 were truly interested in stopping crime, QUESTION 1 WOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN TO TARGET CRIMINAL ACTIVITY, NOT TO ENSNARE THE INNOCENT. Question 1 will expose law-abiding Nevadans to criminal penalties and burdensome costs without making our state any safer.
The supporters of Question 1 have given no regard to fixing the current system and focusing attention on criminals. During a 2014 hearing in the legislature, it was revealed that 800,000 criminal records were missing from the current state crime database.
Instead of addressing this obvious failure in the system, Question 1 targets law-abiding citizens and otherwise legal behavior.
Question 1 won’t make Nevada safer. Laws that target criminals or criminal behavior are what reduce crime and promote public safety. Question 1 does neither.
The above arguments were submitted by the Ballot Question Committee composed of citizens as provided for in NRS 293.252.