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Nevada’s Background Check Law Declared “Unenforceable”

Nevada’s Background Check Law Declared “Unenforceable”

Last summer and fall, we repeatedly warned Nevadans of the dangers of Question 1—the so-called “universal” background check proposal that was on the statewide ballot. We warned how the poorly written initiative, which was drafted without input from law enforcement, would criminalize law-abiding gun owners for common activities and not affect violent criminals. We even pointed out that the initiative was opposed by a majority of the county sheriffs, the governor and the state attorney general .The main point of the letter stated: “…the recent passage of the Nevada legislation regarding background checks for private sales cannot dictate how federal resources are applied.”

In the end, however, gun-ban billionaire Michael Bloomberg pumped millions of dollars into a massive misinformation campaign (talk about “fake news”), and swayed just enough voters for the initiative to pass. Question 1 failed in every Nevada county except Clark County, which, pushed it to passage by less than 1 percent. It was set to take effect on Jan. 1.

In the latest news, however, just last week Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt declared the new law to be “unenforceable.” Here’s what happened.

As written, Question 1 is worded so that dealers conducting background checks for private sales must do so through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Apparently, however, nobody ever talked to the feds about that.

In mid-December, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a letter to the Nevada Department of Public Safety saying, in short, that the FBI would not conduct background checks on private firearm transfers as called for in the new law. The main point of the letter stated: “…the recent passage of the Nevada legislation regarding background checks for private sales cannot dictate how federal resources are applied.”

The FBI’s statement forced the state attorney general’s office to take another look at the new law.

“The Background Check Act mandates that the FBI conduct all background checks for personal transfers,” Monica Moazez, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said in a statement. “The FBI, on Dec. 14, informed the Department of Public Safety that it will not conduct these background checks. Accordingly, the official Attorney General Opinion concludes that without this central feature … the Background Check Act cannot commence.”

For now, the ill-advised scheme is dead in the water.

AG Laxalt’s opinion expanded on that point.

“Under longstanding legal principles, Nevadans are not required to perform the impossible, and therefore excused from compliance with the Act’s background check requirement unless and until the FBI changes its position set forth in its Dec. 14, 2016, letter,” he wrote.

For now, the ill-advised scheme is dead in the water. And while it’s likely anti-gun legislators will try to address the issue in the state’s upcoming legislative session, under Nevada State law, laws passed by ballot initiative cannot be altered for three years.

Robert Uithoven, director of NRA Nevadans for Freedom, summed up the entire situation best.

“This is what happens when you allow uninformed, out-of-state groups that prey on people’s emotions to write your laws,” Uithoven said in a statement.

Rest assured that we’ll continue covering Nevada’s Question 1 as the situation develops further.

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