In the November 8, 2016 general election, Nevada voters narrowly passed Ballot Question 1, requiring background checks for most private firearm transfers between unlicensed individuals (known as "private-party sales").
However, on December 28, 2016, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt (R) said Question 1 could not be enforced because the FBI refuses to conduct such background checks and the state lacks the authority to do so.
Question 1 was set to take effect at the end on Sunday (December 31, 2016). It would have made private-party gun transfers subject to the same background checks required when people purchase a gun through a federally licensed dealer.
The initiative required that people conducting background checks for private transfers do so through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System. But on December 14th, the FBI notified the Nevada Department of Public Safety that it would not conduct such checks.
The FBI's notification stated that “the recent passage of the Nevada legislation regarding background checks for private sales cannot dictate how federal resources are applied.”
The FBI further suggested that the state of Nevada was better positioned than the FBI to conduct the background checks through the Nevada Department of Public Safety Criminal History Repository.
However, AG Laxalt concluded that doing so would violate the initiative's language because Question 1 provided for background checks on private party sales to be conducted by the FBI.
For now, private party sales will continue as before passage of Question 1. But we doubt that Nevadans have heard the last of this.