Nevada

Nevada background check legislation passes Senate Judiciary Committee by Charles Yeganian

Yesterday SB 143 - Nevada’s background check bill that LEAP Forward has been tracking and grading - was heard in and passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee after a hearing local media almost universally referred to as “contentious.” High-ranking state officials testified in favor of the legislation: From KTVN:

Nevada's Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, told lawmakers the bill is a priority to him and looks forward to signing it into law if it's brought to his desk. He says gun violence is not an easy issue to solve, but most state residents support gun background checks.
  
State Attorney General Aaron Ford also spoke in support of the legislation. He says requiring background checks on private gun sales are particularly important due to the online gun market.

The bill is a logical extension of something voters already approve of at the polls in 2016 when they voted in favor of Question 1, a background check initiative that ran into some jurisdictional issues and was never fully enforced. Instead of putting the onus on the federal government, SB 143 makes background checks the responsibility of the state. From Patrick Walker, Las Vegas Now:

"If we, as law-abiding sellers, know we have to conduct a background check, it will be much harder for the person to leave the dealer and find a way to buy a gun without a background check," said William Rosen, presenting SB 143.

Then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt declared the law unenforceable -- and supporters say this bill will fix that, along with enacting the will of the people.

"This is not meant to be a punitive measure; it's a safety measure," said Donna West, supports the bill. "We want to protect Nevada families." 

Republicans and the NRA called the hearing “rushed” and “a secret” despite large crowds showing up at the proper place and time, and fell back on familiar arguments in favor of doing nothing. From James DeHaven, Reno Gazette Journal:

"This bill is nothing more than feel-good legislation that does absolutely nothing to protect Nevadans," said Lyon County Commissioner Ken Gray. "Address the root causes, one of which is lack of access to mental health care."

Steve Johnston, a licensed firearms dealer in Reno, agreed. He said the Legislature could better protect the public by passing legislation to allow students to carry weapons on college campuses.

The bill now goes to the full Senate, where a vote could come as early as today. LEAP Forward will continue to track and grade action on this legislation, and is scoring support.

Background check legislation on fast track in Nevada by Charles Yeganian

Background check legislation introduced today in Nevada could be law by the end of the week and go into effect in 2020. Committee hearings are expected to begin tomorrow on SB 143, a new bill that mirrors an initiative approved by voters but never codified. The FBI refused to comply with the state-level initiative, so now Democrats are seeking to put the state in charge.

“The legislation itself is exactly what was approved by the voters,” Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson told reporters after the bill was introduced. “We didn’t put anything extra in it, we didn’t take anything out of it.”

The law does carve out exemptions related to antique firearms and tranfers between family members, but the legislative wording is strong enough that passage should fulfill one of the four main loopholes in the state’s gun laws identified by the Giffords Law Center. The legislative process will begin tomorrow.

Atkinson said the bill would go through the normal legislative process. A joint hearing on it in front of the Senate and Assembly Judiciary committees is scheduled for Tuesday morning. Atkinson said the Senate could vote on the measure Wednesday.

Speakers at the hearing are expected to be limited to two minutes each but there will be no limit on the number of speakers.

SB 143 would be a huge step forward in strengthening Nevada’s gun laws, and LEAP Forward will continue to track the bill and score support.