With the new year comes new laws, and in Nevada, a so-called universal background check measure originally approved by voters in 2016 is now taking effect.
Implementation of the law, narrowly passed via a referendum, was delayed because of problems with how anti-gun activists crafted the measure. The law, as proposed, required the FBI to conduct all of the background checks on private transfers, but gun control activists never checked with the FBI to see how feasible the requirement was. As it turns out, the FBI wasn’t willing to conduct those background checks, which meant the law couldn’t be enforced.
Democrats were forced to go back to the drawing board, and in early 2019 legislators passed a revised version of the measure that now requires the state to conduct the background checks. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal‘s Victor Joecks reported back in February, even the new legislation may run into legal problems.
What’s ironic is that there’s no policy reason for the rush. The background check bill wouldn’t go into effect until Jan. 1. That’s because the state constitution forbids the Legislature from amending initiatives within three years of voter approval. But even this new measure should be ripe for a legal challenge. The constitution doesn’t provide an exception for legislative changes made within the three years but delayed past the deadline.
We’ll see what the courts do with the new law, but in the meantime gun store owners in the state aren’t too happy about the new restrictions. From KOLO-TV in Reno:
Local gun shop owner, Ed Anderson, said he now has to put the guns being sold on his books in order to conduct a background check for the private sale, and he doesn’t see any of the profit.
“It also puts the dealer in a position where they are now liable for that gun once it leaves the shop because it’s effectively being sold by the dealer even though the dealer doesn’t get any of the money,” Anderson said.
He also said it forces him to take responsibility for a gun he knows nothing about.
“If the person, buying the gun does anything wrong with it, like put in the wrong ammunition, or abuse it or whatever, and it blows up, the first person they’re going to after is the dealer,” he said.
To many gun control activists, that’s not a bug in the new law, but a feature. After all, the fewer gun stores that are around, the fewer guns sold, and since the fundamentally flawed premise of the gun control movement is “more guns equals more crime,” if this law impacts legal gun owners and sellers more than criminals who obtain their guns on the black market, that’s all the better.
Just as we’ve seen in states like Virginia, several Nevada counties have responded to the new background check and red flag laws in Nevada by declaring themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries.
Nye County, for example, recently passed its resolution, and KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reports the Nye County sheriff says the new gun control laws aren’t going to be enforced by his office.
The Nye County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved Resolution 2019-39, declaring a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County.” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed legislation early this year requiring background checks on most private party gun sales.
While a resolution does not have the force of law, it signals that Nye — and likely several other rural Nevada counties — will hold to their opposition of the new law…
Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said in a letter to Sisolak: “As sheriff of Nye County, I agree with (Eureka County) Sheriff Watts: I will not participate in the enforcement of this new law.”
In other words, even though the new background check law may be on the books, it looks like in much of the state its not going to be a priority for law enforcement. I’ll revisit this prediction in twelve months, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I don’t think background checks will dramatically increase in Nevada in 2020, though we may seem crime increase, as we did after Colorado put its own universal background check law on the books in 2013.