Senate passes gun sale background check bill, on to Assembly

CARSON CITY, Nev (KOLO) Update: Senate Bill 143 has passed the Senate in a second reading, 13 to 8. It now heads to the Assembly and must pass before Governor Steve Sisolak signs it.

After the Senate passage, Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald released this statement:

“The process behind this sweeping gun grab measure has been flawed from the start and unearthed the cynicism of Speaker Frierson and Majority Leader Atkinson.

"Our party attempted to fix this broken piece of legislation in the Senate today, but to Nevadans’ dismay, the powers-that-be rallied and killed an amendment by Republican Sen. Keith Pickard. Democrats find it more important to do it their way, and punish law-abiding citizens, than to do it right.

“Despite the despicable speed in which this bill has come together, I have been encouraged to see opposition to the measure turn out at a historic level. Nevadans are realizing Democrats in Carson City are frauds that have no clue what it takes to run our state.”

Original Story: The Nevada Senate Judiciary Committee has passed a Senate bill requiring a background check on certain private party gun sales. Nevada voters said yes to such a measure in 2016. But Nevada’s Attorney General said the law wasn’t enforceable as written. Lawmakers in favor of SB143 say they are enacting the voters’ will. Those opposed to the bill say it is poorly written and has too many unanswered questions.

A look at the long lines of people waiting to take a seat in room 1214 at the legislative building Tuesday morning told anyone this was an issue residents from all over Nevada wanted to listen to, and be heard

"It took me nearly 8 months after the event to stop clearly hearing the bullets that were raining down that night,” said Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui.

She testified at the hearing as she was in the audience during the October 1 shooting in Las Vegas two years ago, and supports the bill for background checks on private gun sales.

"I don't think this will keep my kids or my grandkids any safer," another woman testified to the Joint Judiciary Committee later in the afternoon.

Two very different perspectives on Senate Bill 143, which requires background checks of private gun sales done by licensed gun dealers in Nevada.

Nevadans voted for such an initiative in 2016. But Nevada’s Attorney General at the time said it could not be enforced.

"But we stand here today because for too long the will of the voters was ignored. That hopefully with change today,” said Governor Steve Sisolak, who also testified.

A rare occurrence for a Governor of Nevada.

Those opposed say the bill was not well thought out.

"The idea that we are actually doing the will of the voters is somewhat questionable because this is not the same question that was actually on the ballot,” said Senator Ira Hansen, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The hearings started at 8:00 in the morning and went well beyond 3:00 in the afternoon. Those who testified said the Senate Bill would prevent a felon from committing mass shootings. Those testifying in opposition to SB143 said the bill would do no such thing.

Would women who face being killed by their partners with guns be safer? Would there be fewer suicides?

One woman who testified for SB143 lost her son to gun violence during a road rage incident.

"And what is it going to do? We are not trying to take anything away. We are just trying to protect everybody. I mean it is a step in the right direction as far as I am concerned. That's how I feel," said Jenny Heyman.

One Sparks resident we talked to said the bill merely burdens law-abiding gun owners and will do nothing to stop criminals.

"The one percent failed background checks, they are not around. They are not prosecuted. Somebody trying to do the right thing getting crossed up in the legality of the law the legalese of the law and the next thing you know they are a convicted felon," said Donald Phillips.

Late Tuesday afternoon the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass SB143. The Nevada Senate passed the bill during the floor session early Tuesday evening.

The bill needs to pass a second reading, which should happen during a floor session Wednesday late in the morning. Senate Bill 143 will then head to the Nevada Assembly.

Because Assembly Judiciary members have already heard testimony on this bill, it could be fast-tracked, where second and third readings of the bill will go much faster than normal.

Democrats have a super majority in the Assembly and could suspend the rules. Most party members say they will vote in favor of the bill. It could land on Governor Sisolak’s desk Thursday for his signature.

That’s the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting, in which 17 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Florida high school.