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Nevada gun background check expansion hits roadblock

(WDTV)
Published: Dec. 28, 2016 at 12:34 PM PST
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UPDATE- A controversial ballot measure that narrowly passed last month will have to wait a little longer before it’s implemented.

On December 28th, the Nevada Attorney General's office released an opinion saying the ballot measure doesn't give state agencies the authority to conduct the checks.

In November, voters passed the measure calling for background checks on more gun sales and transfer. Since Election Day, Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell has been busy answering phone calls.

“Since the election, we have gotten a lot of calls on Question 1 and Question 2. A lot. Its non-stop,” said Howell.

Things might calm down for the time being. Question 1 called for FBI background checks on private party gun sales. But the FBI informed the state this month, it wants Nevada to conduct the checks itself because the state databases are more comprehensive.

“We were aware there were some issues on how the law was worded and the mechanics of how the checks were going to be conducted. The Department of Public Safety informed the sheriff’s and chiefs across the state that there was an opinion they were waiting from the Attorney General that would be forthcoming, said Howell.

14 out of 17 sheriffs from Nevada have had their doubts when it comes to questions 1.

“From my discussion from law enforcement administrators across the state is the same concern we had too, is there has never been a factual connection between private party sales and criminality regarding guns,” said Howell.

In the meantime, Nevada resident will continue to follow federal guidelines.

“Because the law is impossible due to these issues identified in the opinion, it’s basically a dead issue. For now it’s going to revert back to, if you transfer a sale a firearm as a private entity, you have to do so in accordance with the federal, which is what Nevada has operated under,” said Howell.

The measure could still go into effect, if the FBI or the Attorney General’s office change their opinion. Lawmakers are looking to see, if the measure can be amended.

Back in 2013, Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill that would have imposed similar background checks.

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ORIGINAL

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Officials say Nevada won't be able to implement a ballot measure that narrowly passed a statewide vote and calls for background checks on more gun sales and transfers.

Question 1 called for FBI background checks on private party gun sales and passed by less than 1 percentage point in November. But the FBI informed the state this month that it wants Nevada to conduct the checks itself because the state databases are more comprehensive.

The Nevada Attorney General's Office released an opinion Wednesday saying the ballot measure doesn't give state agencies the authority to conduct the checks.

Proponents of background checks didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on how they would proceed.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill in 2013 that would have imposed similar background checks.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell:

"The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous inquiries from County residents in regard to the 2016 Initiative Petition #1 – The Background Check Act, commonly referred to as “Question 1” on the last ballot of the general election.

"On December 28, 2016 the Nevada Attorney General issued a legal opinion on the Act.  It is attached to this release for reference.  To summarize the AG opinion the Act is not enforceable and therefore citizens are excused from compliance with the Act until the issues identified in the opinion are remedied.  The Douglas County Sheriff is advising its citizens that they may proceed with private party firearm sells and transfers as they did prior to the passing of ballot question #1."

Lyon County Sheriff's Office:

"The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and the Lyon County District Attorney’s Office support the Nevada Attorney General’s Opinion 2016-12 determining that Question 1, the 2016 ballot initiative mandating new firearm regulations, including background checks for certain private party firearm transfers is unenforceable.

"Consistent with the Opinion and the State of Nevada law enforcement agencies, we will not enforce any provisions of this ballot initiative until the issues have been resolved. We will continue to respect our citizens’ Constitutional rights with respects to firearms, in accordance with the Attorney General Opinion and existing law.

"We will also continue to enforce all current Nevada Revised Statutes as related to firearm violations. As a reminder, current law has always provided a private citizen with the ability to obtain a state background check prior to any firearm transfer if one so desires."