Nevadans can weigh-in on the gun debate in November's general election. If approved, Question 1 will require a background check for private party gun sales.
Senate Bill 221 was a similar bill that passed the state legislature in 2013. Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed the bill, saying it imposed unreasonable burdens and harsh penalties on law-abiding Nevadans. Part of the reason was because it did not exempt the exchange of guns for family members.
Former Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley is on the advisory board for the Background Check Initiative. He says the new version is written more narrowly and takes some of Sandoval's advice into consideration.
"This is a small step and a responsible step of trying to keep people away from access to weapons so easily and so rapidly, and I do think it will save lives," Haley said.
127,480 background checks were issued by federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs) in Nevada, last year. However, private party sales do not require a background check in the Silver State.
"It provides an opportunity for folks with mental disabilities, for folks with nefarious intentions, for folks who are known criminals to access weapons freely," Haley said.
If passed, anyone who wants to sell a gun to another person would have to go to a licensed dealer for a background check. The dealer can charge a reasonable fee. Unlike SB 221 in 2013, Question 1 would still allow immediate family members to give or sell firearms to each other. That includes, spouses, domestic partners, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Antique firearms would also exempt, and temporary transfers of guns for hunting or immediate self-defense would be allowed.
Still, some say they are on the fence when it comes to more gun regulations.
"Yes, there needs to be more control but the control needs to come from good, law-abiding citizens, not the government telling us what to do," Clarice Foster said.
Foster is a certified NRA and CCW instructor. She says changes are needed to make the state safer, but coming up with the right solution is a difficult challenge.
"I don't think more laws on gun control," Foster said. "I think more laws on gun education is really where we need to go."
If the law goes into effect, failure to comply will result in a gross misdemeanor. Any additional violations will be a felony.
"What I really want is people to start stepping back and being responsible gun owners," Foster said. "Get your training, make sure your firearms are legal, make sure they're properly taken care of."
Haley says there is some common ground between people who want stricter gun regulations and those who view restrictions as an attack on Second Amendment rights. He says the biggest arguments he hears from opponents of Question 1 are the cost, which is around $30 for the background check, and inconvenience.
"Is that convenience creating an opportunity for people to purchase weapons and then commit crimes with those weapons? So, we ought to slow the process down a little bit," Haley said.
Nationwide, it is estimated that 40% of gun sales are sold between private parties, and do not require background checks.