A group calling itself Nevadans for Background Checks has announced an initiative that would mandate background checks on all gun sales in the state.
A statement issued by the organization says the campaign was spurred by Gov. Brian Sandoval’s veto of background check legislation passed by the 2013 Legislature. The group filed the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office Friday.
“An overwhelming majority of Nevadans support expanding criminal background checks to all gun sales and today is the beginning of our fight to make sure their voices are heard on election day,” said Teresa Crawford, an advocate for prevention of gun violence.
“We have the right to bear arms but, with rights, come responsibilities, including the responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons and domestic abusers,” said Bob Cavazos, a military veteran and gun owner.
The group said surveys show 86 percent of Nevadans support background checks designed to keep criminals and the mentally ill from buying guns.
The ballot initiative, it said, is designed to “keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers and people with severe mental illness.”
In addition, the initiative, the group argues would “create a fair, level playing field where all gun sellers must follow the same set of rules.”
Currently, it points out anyone can buy guns from unlicensed sellers at gun shows and online because of the loophole in federal law requiring background checks only for sales by licensed dealers. As a result, an estimated 40 percent of gun sales are sold without background checks on the buyers.
The only sales that would be exempted under the initiative would be transfers between law enforcement agencies, transfers of antique firearms, between immediate family members, to executors of estates when the owner dies and temporary transfers for self-defense, hunting and target shooting or competitions.
The first offense by a seller would be a gross misdemeanor, subsequent convictions would be a category C felony.
“After Gov. Sandoval’s 2013 veto of background checks legislation, Nevadans will bring the measure to the 2016 ballot for voters to decide,” the group said.