Nevada governor signs gun safety background check into law

by Brian Bahouth

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signs Senate Bill 143 into law, a measure that would implement an enhanced system of gun safety background checks in Nevada - image - the Office of Governor Steve Sisolak.

Reno – Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak held a signing ceremony in his office today to sign SB143, a bill to close the background check loophole for private gun sales and transfers, into law. The bill passed the Nevada Assembly today, after previously passing the Nevada Senate.

Votes in both chambers were cast along party lines.  Yesterday SB143 passed the Senate on a 13-8  vote and today passed the Assembly on a 28 to 13 vote.  Governor Sisolak signed the measure shortly after 1:00 p.m. today, day 12 of the 2019, biennial legislative session.

Judiciary committees from both chambers held a joint hearing on the measure earlier in the week where passionate testimony was given on both sides of the issue in a grueling all-day hearing.  Hear 37 discrete audio files of testimony on SB143. 

Background

In 2016, Ballot Question 1 passed a popular vote in Nevada and in effect would have prohibited the sale of guns between individuals in the state without conducting a background check, but following the election, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt issued an opinion that rendered the voter approved law “unenforceable” for lack of administrative support and resources from the federal and state governments, and thereby, the “unenforceable” status means citizens cannot be prosecuted for not complying with the act. Then Governor Brian Sandoval supported the decision.

Senate Bill 143 is in effect the same as Ballot Question 1 in all regards except for the agency designated to do the background checks. The new law will nullify Ballot Question 1 and establish a new system of background checks for all commercial transfers of firearms.

Language from Senate Bill 143 describes the gun transfer loopholes the measure is intended to fix:

Federally licensed firearms dealers are required to run background checks on their prospective buyers to ensure they are not prohibited from buying or possessing firearms; Criminals and other dangerous people can avoid background checks by buying guns from unlicensed firearms sellers, whom they can easily meet online or at gun shows and who are not legally required to run background checks before selling or transferring firearms; Due to this loophole, millions of guns exchange hands each year in the United States without a background check.

Watch Nevada Governor Sisolak sign SB143 into law.

Now, those who sell guns with certain exemptions must take the firearm(s) to a licensed dealer who agrees to conduct a background check for a “reasonable fee.”

The dealer will then comply with all federal and state requirements for a background check.  The background check is conducted as if the gun(s) are from the dealer’s inventory.

Certain transfers of firearms are exempt from the background check.  For instance, the sale or transfer of a firearm between immediate family members, which means, “spouses and domestic partners and any of the following relations, whether by whole or half blood, adoption, or step-relation: parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.”

See the legislation for a full list of background check exemptions.

Read Governor Sisolak’s comments at the signing of SB143.

NV Gov. signs SB143 by on Scribd