Lawsuit Filed Over Unimplemented Universal Background Check

The massacre in Las Vegas caught a lot of people off-guard. No one foresaw anything of the kind happening in Sin City. However, it does appear to have been enough to prompt at least one lawsuit for an unimplemented law passed via ballot initiative in Nevada. The group known as Nevadans For Background Checks, with the help of the Bloomberg-backed Everytown For Gun Safety, managed to convince Nevada voters that universal background checks were not only desirable but beneficial.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt have apparently been blocking the measure, so the anti-gun crusaders are looking to take their grievances to a court of law.

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The lawsuit seeks to do one of two things. The first would be to compel Gov Sandoval to implement the measure as passed, or have the court issue a declaratory judgment striking any unenforceable portions of the law. The suit reads, “This case is about the refusal of the governor of Nevada to discharge one of his most fundamental constitutional obligations — to see that the laws of this state are faithfully executed.”

At issue is the fact that the law would change Nevada from a point-of-contact state, where all background checks go through the Department of Public Safety to a partial point-of-contact state where FFL transfers would still go through the DPS, but any private transfer background check would go directly to the FBI NICS system. The issue is that the FBI has already stated that implementation of federal resources cannot be dictated by state law and therefore will not allow private sellers in Nevada from using the NICS system for background checks.

Mark A. Ferrario, counsel for Nevadans for Background Checks, wrote in a letter to the governor, “All that is required of the governor is that he engages directly with the FBI, confirm Nevada’s choice of partial POC status, and take the steps necessary to implement the law.” This letter is in response to Laxalt’s office stating that a proposed partial point-of-contact structure would be unique.

This clash on gun laws isn’t the first time the Gov. Sandoval has stopped a similar action. In 2013 he vetoed a bill that would require background checks for private gun transfers. Gov. Sandoval cited the second amendment in his veto by saying that background checks would put an undue burden on the citizens of Nevada. This veto, was because a family member would not be exempt from the background checks when transferring firearms to another family member.

The problem with universal background checks is that nothing about them is particularly enforceable. The transfer of a firearm to a family member is just one example.

Unless the state maintains a full database of who has which guns, it’s impossible to determine just when a gun was transferred and to whom. Was it before the universal background check law went into effect, or after? Was it purchased in the state of Nevada, or did it relocate into the state with the owner?

Further, it would do nothing to actually stop criminals from getting guns since they typically buy black market firearms anyway. It also would do nothing to prevent a mass shooting like Las Vegas as the killer had passed mandated background checks.

If this goes to court, perhaps a judge can point out the stupid.