Following a 2013 veto of a universal background check bill by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a state group associated with Everytown for Gun Safety is circulating a petition to put the matter to a vote.
The petition, which would require just under 102,000 signatures, could place the initiative on ballots in the state in 2016. It is being circulated by Nevadans for Background Checks, which, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, is affiliated with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown group.
“The Background Check Initiative will close loopholes in Nevada law that make it all too easy for felons, domestic abusers, and the severely mentally ill to buy guns,” the Nevada group claims on its website. “Due to this loophole, millions of guns exchange hands each year without the simple 90-second background check that could stop a criminal from buying a gun.”
The group goes on to describe the measure as a “common sense solution” for “all gun sales in Nevada.”
The petition for The Background Check Act, filed with the Nevada secretary of state’s office last Friday, would require that any person without a Federal Firearms License, not selling or transferring a gun to another unlicensed dealer, obtain a background check through a FFL holder. Violations would be counted as a gross misdemeanor, which in Nevada carries a penalty of up to 1-year imprisonment, or a fine of up to $2,000 or both following a jury trial.
The wording is very similar to that found in state Senate Bill 221, which Sandoval vetoed last June. In his veto statement on the legislation at the time, Sandoval said that SB221, “imposes unreasonable burdens and harsh penalties upon law-abiding Nevadans, while doing little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms.”
Some in the state do not believe the measure, if made into law, would have any effect on reducing crime.
“You take a look at the last few shootings, would a background check have stopped any of those shootings, I say the answer is no,” John Wagner, state chairman of the Independent American Party, told local media. “Bad guys don’t necessarily get background checks; they buy the guns on the street that somebody else has stolen.”
The National Rifle Association has already vowed to oppose the petition, calling it, “just another attempt by anti-gun extremists to push their radical beliefs on law-abiding gun owners in Nevada,” in a release Tuesday.
The campaign for universal background checks is a common theme among national gun control groups, including Everytown, Gabby and Mark Gifford Americans for Responsible Solutions, and the Brady Campaign. It was the Bradies that pushed for the current National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which they contend currently only catches about 60 percent of firearms transfers.
However, states that have adopted these expanded checks have reported mixed results. For instance, in Colorado, besides having the unintended result of preventing gun buyback programs, expanded background check figures have been derided by some as being inflated.
To move forward on the new petition, Nevadans for Background Checks would have to obtain 101,667 signatures by Nov. 11, including at least 25,417 signatures from each of the four state Petition Districts. If this is accomplished, it would be forwarded to the state legislature and finally to the governor’s office to either approve or deny. Should the petition be denied, it could then be placed on a ballot in a regular election, most likely in 2016.