Nevada Senate Passes Bill to Criminalize Private Transfers

Nevada’s Governor, Steve Sisolak, testified in favor of The Background Check Act. (Photo: Facebook/Steve Sisolak)

This week the Nevada Senate passed SB143 by a vote of 13 to 8.  The bill, known as “The Background Check Act,” would require any unlicensed parties who wish to transfer ownership of a firearm to first both appear before a licensed firearm dealer so that a background check can be completed.

Anyone who does not comply with the act would face criminal charges.  The first offense would be a misdemeanor and any second and subsequent offenses could be charged as felonies.

The bill, if ultimately passed by the state Assembly, would apply to any transactions between unlicensed parties including transactions at gun shows.  The bill would not require a background check for law enforcement transfers or transfers between immediate family members.  The bill would not apply to antique firearms.

After the Senate passed the bill, Nevada’s GOP Chairman, Michael McDonald, released a statement.

“The process behind this sweeping gun grab measure has been flawed from the start,”  McDonald said.  “Our party attempted to fix this broken piece of legislation . . . [but] Democrats find it more important to do it their way, and punish law abiding citizens, than to do it right.”

Prior to coming before the Senate for a vote, public testimony was taken and the bill was debated in committee hearings.  One woman, Jenny Heyman, testified in favor of the bill, having lost her son to a man with a gun during a road rage incident.

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“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 Heyman.

Another resident, Donald Phillips, testified that 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,” Phillips said.

The Governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, also testified at the hearings.

“But we stand here today because for too long the will of the voters was ignored.  That hopefully will change today,” Gov. Sisolak said.

Voters previously passed a 2016 ballot initiative that sought to subject most private-party gun transactions to an FBI vetting process.  However, the FBI declined to do the checks resulting in a court ruling that the measure was unenforceable as written.

Democrats have a supermajority in the Assembly.  Most party members say they will vote in favor of the bill.  If the bill is fast-tracked, it could land on Gov. Sisolak’s desk Thursday for his signature.

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

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About the author: John Thomas is a U.S. Navy veteran, and a former prosecutor and defense attorney with over 20 years of experience in state and federal courts. He has handled everything from traffic tickets to first-degree murder cases and is a long-time supporter of Second Amendment rights and the rights of individuals to defend themselves, their families and their property.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Phillip DeWitt February 8, 2021, 9:48 am

    Personally I would go through a dealer for background check if I was selling a firearm to someone I didn’t know. I feel responsible and I’m sure the tort lawyers would clean me out if my weapon was used for criminal activity.

  • jim February 5, 2021, 4:20 pm

    There is one, and only one, valid concern over private transfers, which is, that a private citizen will sell a firearm to someone who uses it in a felony. I certainly believe we all can agree that would be a legitimate concern. So, why doesn’t the bill state that a seller will be charged with a misdemeanor “only in the event that the purchaser is a felon, or uses the gun in the commission of a felony”?

    The woman who testified regarding her son’s murder did not include the source of possession of the weapon by the man who killed her son. While I have great sympathy for her loss, her testimony was immaterial to the legislation. If the conservatives who opposed the legislation had ordered the amendment I stated above, those on the Left would have had no reason not to adopt it. Where are the conservative brainiacs who failed to do that for us gun-owners?

  • Charles Jennings February 16, 2019, 7:44 am

    As a Constitutionalist,it is my duty to ignore such gun laws.

    • Alan February 17, 2019, 11:23 am

      That is my answer to this type of law. Who is going to know that you or I sold or traded a gun to a friend? And that is exactly why this so called bIll is such a joke. It absolutely does nothing, if the gun owners do not comply; unless you sell or give a gun to somebody else and it is then used in a crime, then there may be ramifications. The “ignorants” seem to think we gun owners sell our guns right and left and then those guns are being used to commit violent crimes.

      In the end most law abiding folks will comply with the law; and gun registration will have become, unwittingly, a voluntary reality.

      • J February 25, 2019, 1:40 pm

        It gives the government (probably ATF or LOCAL piggy’s) the ability to kick down your door and shoot you over something like hearsay… that is what it does. Kinda like “red flag laws” it’s the new witch or commie or whatever it’s a made up reason for the govt to kill you….. sad huh?

      • jim February 5, 2021, 4:03 pm

        I am opposed to the bill, but you have made a ludicrous comment…”unless you sell or give a gun to somebody else and it is then used in a crime”. You are leaving out the possibility that the gun may be stolen and reported, OR that the gun may accidentally be discharged at some time, somewhere, and will be reported, OR that the gun may be used in self-defense, OR many other scenarios. In each case the gun will be traced back to you, and you will be in trouble. The law could have easily been amended to read, “…in the event the sold weapon is used in a felony, the transferor may be charged with a misdemeanor”. Simple fix to the crazies who fear that any sold gun is going to kill someone.

  • Stuart February 15, 2019, 4:51 pm

    This is what hapens when a bunch of ill-informed ignoramous Kalifornia transiets vote in a telephone salesman into the Governor’s Mansion. The only job this low-brow, low-life ever had was that of a phone con man. He’s not even qualified to perform simple labor, drive a cab, take a room reservation, etc. What did Nevada really expect. Might as well have elected Bloomberg, since he’s funding the entire legislative branch of the state of Nevada. Sicckening!

    • Alan February 17, 2019, 11:32 am

      True story. Nevada is now run by those that fled LA and moved to Las Vegas. We seem to be getting the same here in Northern Nevada, a huge influx of Californians. I think there is a great argument for Rural Nevada, Northern Nevada and Northern California to join together to become a New State.

      We have the same problem, across the country, in what is supposed to be the “United States”. It has become City Folks against rural and small town America.

  • Eric February 15, 2019, 3:33 pm

    I’m going to grief for this comment but I think this IS a good common since law and PLEASE let me explain why. I think it is our obligation and responsibility to make sure we are NOT selling or giving a firearm to a person that is not permitted to own or posses one. I think these checks should be free to the public and this would help encourage more to follow the law regarding this issue. I would NEVER transfer ownership of a firearm to anyone without knowing they are legal to have one and this process makes that happen. Prier to these kinds of laws you had no way of finding out this kind of information prier to a transfer of ownership. I tried about 8 years ago to do it on a private sale and it was NOT an option so I decided to decline the sale and kept the firearm. So, as much as I HATE to agree with these people, I find myself in a wonky situation and I do.

    • Andrew February 16, 2019, 12:07 am

      Agreed!

    • deanbob February 16, 2019, 6:01 pm

      You could have required the transfer take place through a licensed FFL listed in the yellow pages), as all other internet purchases are.

    • Alan February 17, 2019, 11:38 am

      Eric,

      You are not what this Bill is all about! You are a law abiding gun owner, who sounds mentally stable and concerned with your liability and responsibility as a gun owner. I imagine you live the rest of your life responsibly. What I just said is the very reason this “Bill” is such folly!

      Have you read the actual Bill? It is without a doubt one of the most ignorant bills ever.

    • jim February 5, 2021, 4:35 pm

      Okay, then make the law punishable for “any seller who transfers a weapon to a convicted felon, or to anyone who uses the weapon in the commission of a felony”. This law, which will be widely contested, and ignored regardless of outcome, punishes me if I sell a weapon to my neighbor, and he defends his life with it.

      Of greater concern is that an “enforceable” law REQUIRING to have all private sales conducted via a background check will allow the state to impose a prohibitive cost associated to that background check. So, you want to sell a firearm, and the BC now costs $100…are you going to be able to re-coup that cost in the sale? Such a cost IS NOT NOW placed on the BC because the current law was unenforceable, and gun shops would rightfully oppose it as unfair. However, once the BC is REQUIRED OF ALL TRANSACTIONS, there is nothing to stop LIBERALS from imposing any cost they want in the background check. The time is coming when such a requirement may be put to the voters, and only an idiot would bet that it would not be approved, based on what happened in our own state’s recent fraudulent elections.

  • Richard February 15, 2019, 12:17 pm

    The problem with gun control advocates is that they can only see one side of the gun ownership coin. They see only the much advertised horrors of criminals and the mentally unstable incidents. How is gun control going to control the shootings of gangs and thieves, as in major metropolitan areas (like Chicago)? It doesn’t help there and it won’t help here in that matter. Guns are also used in recreational , organized and sanctioned sporting events (ex: Olympics) for all ages and to put food on the table. It is beyond me to understand why people cannot see the obvious, that regulations are followed only by the law abiding? Shouldn’t efforts be made to control those with criminal intent instead by increasing the penalties for gun crimes? Automatic death penalty for gun/knife murders for example. Go hard and legislate based on the trespass, not try to control the already law abiding, which doesn’t seem to make any (common) sense.

    • Winston February 15, 2019, 1:02 pm

      The American Hollywood-Ivy League Establishment class are these using stupid, fragile white suburban teenagers as part of the long-term campaign to disarm the non-upper class public. It is because they fear an armed revolt against their rotten iron grip in the country.

  • Brian February 15, 2019, 11:55 am

    Nevada has just been annexed by Kalifornia as the Democratic/communist agenda creeps in. Civil war/revolution is coming just like it did in 1775. The people just have to get fed up with the damned politicians systematically destroying their Constitutional rights to make it happen. Background checks lead to registration which leads to confiscation, the ultimate goal of the communist’s masquerading as Democrats in their quest for ultimate control and power over their subjects!

  • FRED'S GUNS, LLC February 15, 2019, 9:34 am

    Universal background check are coming so why don’t we wright a decent law.

    1) Only purchaser’s information is given for the background check. No information on seller or firearm need be disclosed.
    2) If you want to exempt law enforcement, then concealed weapon permit holders should be exempted also.
    3) Absolutely no cost should be incurred for the background check by either party.
    4) Transfers between family members exempted.
    5) Applies only to sales and permanent transfers.
    6) It is a felony for any elected official to wright or vote for an unconstitutional law.

    Just my thoughts.

    • Me February 15, 2019, 10:05 am

      Is the reason your seem to have rolled over on this is because you are a gun dealer and can foresee more money coming your way? We should fight all gun control schemes. The only way Universal Background checks work is to have a gun registration. Are you for a gun registration?

      • andy February 15, 2019, 2:00 pm

        how ( who) will you enforce it?

      • FRED'S GUNS, LLC February 15, 2019, 3:09 pm

        Reading comprehension is not your strong suit.
        Read #1 and #3 again.

        • US MARINE February 15, 2019, 11:21 pm

          And spelling with proper grammar is obviously not your strong side either! IE; the correct word is “WRITE not WRIGHT”!

  • Torn February 15, 2019, 7:45 am

    It may have passed the Senate but Bloomberg must be really PO’d, The Attorney General suspended it because (surprise surprise) it was so poorly written as to be unconstitutional.

  • frank e. anderson February 15, 2019, 6:21 am

    Move the gun shows and conferences from Nevada to Texas

  • NICHOLAS VICCIONE February 15, 2019, 5:19 am

    One Bill at a time . This is how it happens . I have nothing against Background check before selling a firearm to someone . Only a FOOL would sell a firearm to someone He did not know without calling NICS . BUT ! criminals and Fools Do NOT do Background checks .

    • Dr Motown February 15, 2019, 6:41 am

      So, you support the bill or not? Your position wavers from one sentence to the next….

    • NavyVet1959 February 15, 2019, 8:44 am

      Welcome to the slippery slope… You probably can’t even see the top anymore…

      A firearm is just a tool, nothing more… What part of “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED” are people just too stupid to understand? The Founding Fathers left no room whatsoever for any sort of restrictions when they said “SHALL NOT”.

      I have 45-50 different firearms in my collection. How would having to go through a background check before purchasing another firearm make anyone safer that they already are?

      • Andrew February 16, 2019, 12:18 am

        Infringe – : to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another.
        Universal background checks do not prevent someone from lawfully owning a firearm. It’s barely a mild inconvenience.

        • jim February 5, 2021, 4:44 pm

          Andrew…you need to go further with your definitions. To “encroach” means to intrude, not to “prevent”. An intrusion into your life or rights does not mean the prevention of that life, or rights. It merely makes that life, or right, more difficult to fulfill or enjoy.

          You consider it a mild inconvenience now. Will you still do so when the cost is $100, or $200, and requires a 15-day or 30-day wait? How about $500, and a 6-month wait? ALL OF THOSE can be written into a background check fairly easily. Or, if need to be to a state-wide vote, are you absolutely confident of prevailing against such measures?

    • Me February 15, 2019, 10:03 am

      So what other rights to you believe you should get permission from the government to use. Background checks do not stop crime. They only hurt the good people. All the school shootings/Church shooting I know about the person passed a background check or stole the gun. So how will a Universal check help? Funny how before the Dems New Deal there didn’t seem to be the crime there is now. But even with that crime is going down after increases since then from what the FBI tells us.

      The only way to enforce Universal Background Checks is to have a gun registration. Are you for a gun registration too?

      • Eric February 15, 2019, 4:25 pm

        “ME”, Let me answer your questions.
        1.) Do background checks stop crimes? Yes, and the first one they will stop is apparently yours. It is illegal to sell, give or transfer possession or ownership of a firearm to a felon.

        2.) Do these laws really only hurt good people? If you are the person in answer #1 then maybe you are not as good a person as you think you are.

        3.) Am I for gun registration? I’m on the fence on that one. I can see a good reason on both sides but I lean towards no. When gun registration first started it was “told” to the public that if in the event your firearm is stolen and recovered it makes it easier to get it back and also to report it stolen for a recovery standpoint and to help catch the criminal who stole it. My concern now is that it will end up in some database that will come back to haunt us all later should the confiscations laws become a reality which is from what I’m guessing is your big concern here. I think they already know about all of our guns that we got a dealers and shows if we had a background check. The ones that people might have gotten via private sale is the only ones you might be worried about if you should have any. One of my questions is just that, are we actually already registered for our background checked purchases? Who knows but I have nothing to hide.

        • I Love Liberty February 23, 2019, 2:21 am

          Eric, you have not studied history. Almost every time in history when private citizen guns have been registered they end up confiscated. Just give it five to fifty years and the tyrant laws will keep coming that will eventually end up in bans. The mandatory firearm registration eventually ends in confiscation.

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