Both commercial and private gun dealers in Nevada must run universal background checks on purchasers before going through with the gun sale.
Background checks may take up to three (3) days. Some of the disqualifications for buying a gun include being either:
- under 18 (or 21 for handguns);
- a convicted felon or domestic violence misdemeanant;
- an undocumented non-citizen;
- a fugitive; and/or
- a drug addict
Currently, Nevada gun laws do not impose background check requirements for buying ammunition.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked questions about background checks for Nevada gun sales. Click on a topic to jump to that section.
- 1. Do I have to get a background check to buy a gun in Las Vegas, Nevada?
- 2. How does a background check for buying a gun work?
- 3. Is there a mandatory wait time to buy a gun?
- 4. Will I pass the background check to buy a gun?
- 5. Can I appeal if I do not pass the background check to buy a gun?
- 6. Are background checks required for private gun sales?
- 7. Do I need a background check to buy ammunition?
- 8. Do I need a license to buy a gun in Nevada?
1. Do I have to get a background check to buy a gun in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Yes, federal law requires background checks for gun purchases or gun transfers, even for private party gun sales or at gun shows.1 But Nevadans with current and valid CCW (carrying concealed weapons) permit who buy from a licensed dealer just have to fill out the 4473 form and do not need a background check.2
The purpose of requiring background checks is to keep guns from getting into the wrong hands – particularly people with mental health problems – in order to prevent gun violence.
2. How does a background check for buying a gun work?
Before an FFL dealer (federal firearm license dealer) can sell a gun to a purchaser in the state of Nevada, the dealer runs a “Brady background check” through the Nevada Department of Public Safety (NDPS). In determining whether a purchaser passes the background check, the NDPS searches both state and federal records, including those in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database.3
If the purchaser passes the background check, the dealer may proceed with the gun sale.
3. Is there a mandatory wait time to buy a gun?
No. But sometimes the background check can take up to three (3) days to complete. This delay is often due to the purchaser having a similar name to someone else who may be prohibited from possessing a firearm, and NDPS staffers simply need more time to research.
If the background check exceeds three (3) days, the seller may sell the person the gun without having to wait any longer.4
4. Will I pass the background check to buy a gun?
The following people will not pass a background check to buy a firearm in Nevada:
- People under the age of 18 (or under 21 for handguns);
- People who have been adjudicated mentally ill;
- Convicted felons;
- People convicted of domestic violence;
- Illegal aliens;
- Dishonorably discharged veterans;
- Former U.S. citizens who renounced their citizenship;
- People who are subject to a court order restraining them from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or his/her child;
- People who are under indictment or information for a felony;
- Convicted stalkers;
- Fugitives; and
- Drug addicts5
Prospective gun purchasers who wish to check their criminal history prior to trying to buy a gun are advised to consult an attorney. An attorney can help with pursuing a NDPS records request and an FBI records request.
5. Can I appeal if I do not pass the background check to buy a gun?
Yes, though it is advised that the purchaser consults with an attorney about the appeals process. Learn more at the NV point-of-contact (POC) webpage and the NICS Brady Check FBI appeals page.
6. Are background checks required for private gun sales?
Yes, background checks are required for private gun sales. Therefore, the buyer and seller should meet at a licensed firearms dealer to run the background check. The gun dealer will charge a small fee for this service.
Note that background checks are not required for gun transfers between immediate family members or to law enforcement agencies.
Requiring background checks for private sales or transfers is a relatively new law. It was meant to fill in the loophole that allowed “prohibited persons” from getting their hands on guns.
Since requiring background checks is seen as inhibiting gun rights, this measure was largely supported by Democrats and condemned by Republicans.6
7. Do I need a background check to buy ammunition?
No. Background checks are not required for purchasing ammo under Nevada state law.
8. Do I need a license to buy a gun in Nevada?
No. People do not need a license in order to become a gun owner under Nevada law. Purchasers just need to abide by the background check laws.
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF.gov)
- Second Amendment (right to bear arms)
- Nevada Attorney General
- Clark County Sheriff CCW application
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(1).
- 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d).
- Nevada Point of Contact Firearm Program.
- U.S. General Accounting Office, Gun Control: Implementation of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System 13 (Feb. 2000).
- NRS 202.360; Nevada Senate Bill 124 (2017).
- Nevada Senate Bill 143 (2019); Bill Dentzer, “Sisolak signs Nevada gun background checks bill into law,” Las Vegas Review-Journal (February 15, 2019). See also Hager v. State (2019) .