45°F
weather icon Clear

Nevada’s gun-check law has new legal challenge

Nevada’s new law expanding firearm background checks to private-party sales and transfers is facing another challenge: a lawsuit contending that it violates the state Constitution.

The law, approved by voters in a ballot initiative in November, is already in limbo and will not take effect as expected on Sunday following an opinion earlier this week by the state attorney general that it is currently unenforceable.

The lawsuit filed Thursday by a private gun seller adds a new threat to the law, arguing that it improperly creates a “taxable event” for gun sellers in violation of the state Constitution. It also says that would violate the sellers’ right to due process if they did not have the checks conducted.

The complaint filed in Clark County Court names the state Departments of Taxation and Public Safety.

According to the complaint, a retailer performing a background check for a private gun sale or transfer would have to take possession of the firearm as if it was part of the store’s inventory and then charge the seller a sales or use tax.

That would place a financial burden on the seller, said Las Vegas attorney Donald Green, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of client Peter Reece, an occasional gun seller at gun shows who does not have a federal firearm license.

The new background check law is “one million percent silent on the issue of creating a taxable event,” Green said.

“You can’t just do that,” he said. “It’s not an exception under the tax code.”

The office of Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who would be charged with defending the law, said it could not comment on Friday because it had not yet been served with the complaint.

Laxalt himself dealt the background check law a setback earlier this week, stating in an opinion Wednesday that it can not take effect as scheduled because of a problem with the way it assigns responsibility for conducting the checks between the state and the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The initiative said that dealers conducting background checks for private transfers must contact the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to determine whether the buyer is eligible to purchase or possess firearms under state and federal law.

But the FBI informed the Nevada Department of Public Safety on Dec. 14 that it will not conduct these background checks.

In its letter, the FBI said Nevada is a “point of contact” state that uses not only the federal NICS system but also a central state repository — a database that includes such things as mental health records, domestic violence incidents, misdemeanor criminal records and arrests reports, as well as restraining orders.

The FBI said that means the state background check system is more comprehensive and the DPS would be better suited to carry out the checks.

It also noted that “the recent passage of the Nevada legislation regarding background checks for private sales cannot dictate how federal resources are applied.”

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com. Follow @WesJuhl on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Coronavirus outbreak changing life in Beatty

For the burros, it’s business as usual in Beatty, although there has been a curtailment of handouts from passing tourists and some local eateries. But for most of the human residents, the “Stay Home Nevada” restrictions have caused major alterations in daily life.

COVID-19 cases in Nevada

The COVID-19 outbreak has been spreading across Nevada for the last several weeks. The current number of positive cases, though there are none in Nye County at the time of this writing, is 738. The number of deaths in the state is 14, according to the data.

Dispute at fast food drive-thru leads to pursuit

A verbal altercation at the Burger King drive-thru led to a sheriff’s office pursuit along southbound Highway 160 just after 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 26.

House passes $2.2T coronavirus relief package

The vote came after lawmakers were forced to scramble back to the Capitol when a lone Republican bucked GOP leaders and threatened to force a roll call vote.

4th Annual Veterans Extravaganza in Pahrump sees another successful year

Ask any of the participants or organizers at the Veterans Extravaganza and you’ll likely end up with the same answer from each of them; it’s all about giving back to the men and women who have donned a U.S. military uniform and dedicated themselves to serving the country, often sacrificing their own personal well-being in order to help protect America and its citizens.

RSVP shifting gears during Coronavirus outbreak

In a time when “social distancing” has become the new norm in an attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, businesses and organizations nationwide are retooling and changing their models in an effort to keep their operations functioning until the country returns to its former status quo.

Nevada’s primary voting to take place by mail

The coronavirus continues to expands its hold on everyday life in America and not even Nevada’s primary elections are able to escape the overrearching impact.

Nye’s 2020 state and federal primary races set

For the 2020 primary election, Nye County voters will play a part in determining who holds certain state and federal offices, including seats for the U.S House of Representatives District 4, Nevada State Senate District 19, Nevada State Assembly District 32 and Nevada Assembly District 36.

Crews rescue man from mine shaft

A man who plunged down a mine shaft last Friday evening, March 20, is recovering from his ordeal.