Yes, you can sell a gun privately in Nevada, but the buyer must complete a background check, and you must use the services of a licensed firearms dealer. The Nevada legislature enacted NRS § 202.2547, which mandates that all private purchasers complete a background check before buying a firearm. A licensed firearms dealer should conduct the background check and will perform the service for a small fee.
Under the provisions of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which went into effect on January 2, 2020, all firearms sales within the state require completion of a background check. Although there are some exceptions, per NRS § 202.2548, the law is firm, and penalties can be stiff.
When and Why Did the Law Change?
The new laws were voted on in early 2019 and became effective on January 2, 2020. The Nevada legislature proposed the legislation after what has been called the most deadly shooting in modern U.S. history.
Gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire from the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500 people during the shooting spree. The October 1, 2017, attack lasted for only 10 minutes.
By using assault-style rifles equipped with bump stock devices, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) explains, the shooter could fire rapidly into a concert crowd. After firing more than 1,000 rounds into the crowd, the gunman turned a handgun on himself and later died from a self-inflicted wound.
The After-Effects of a Las Vegas Mass Shooting
During the investigation of the attack, law enforcement discovered that Paddock fired 1.058 rounds of ammunition from 15 different rifles. The weapons used during the assault were all legally purchased in Nevada, California, Texas, and Utah. Paddock bought many of the weapons at gun shows without background check requirements.
Former Acting United States Attorney General Matthew Whitaker signed a regulation banning bump stocks in December 2018. The regulation, effective since March 2019, prohibits the sale of bump stock devices. Current owners are also required to surrender or destroy devices they may own.
To make it more challenging to amass so many weapons, Nevada legislators enacted the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 in February 2019. That law went into effect on January 2, 2020.
What Does the New Law Mean?
Legislators originally proposed the change to close what is known as the “gun show loophole.” Before the change, it was legal to exchange gun ownership at gun shows, bypassing background checks. The law requires all gun sales to have a background check, resulting in a possible delay of up to three days.
How Do Gun Sales Work in Nevada?
All gun sales must be accomplished through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). The purchaser must complete an ATF Form 4473. The FFL forwards the form to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to check in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
The FFL will also make a copy of your Nevada ID and a valid Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit if the buyer has one. People with valid CCW permits are not exempt from the background check.
The report may take up to three days to return. Buyers will receive one of three determinations — approved, delayed, or denied. When a buyer gets a “denied” response, they will not be allowed to buy a firearm.
Buyers receiving a “delayed” response must wait, as the FBI may need to do more research to verify the buyer’s background. If there is no update within 72 hours, the FFL may complete the sale. In Nevada, it is legal for an FFL to release a firearm to a buyer with an unresolved status, but it is not mandatory. Some FFLs may opt to deny a sale in this instance.
How Do I Find a Licensed Gun Dealer?
The quickest way to find a licensed gun dealer is to utilize the online ATF Directory. The directory is searchable by state and will provide a printable list of registered FFLs.
There are also commercially owned directory services, such as the one maintained by FFL Gun Dealers. The problem with commercially owned sites is that there may not be accurate information, so it is best to use the official ATF database.
I Want to Sell a Gun – How Do I Do a Background Check?
The first step is to find a federally registered firearms dealer. The current gun owner (you) and your prospective buyer must go to the FFL to complete the exchange. On completion and approval of the background check, the sale may occur.
The FFL may charge a few for this service. Most charge around $25 to $30, but there are no regulations on the fee amount, so your FFL may be higher or lower. If the background check is delayed, the buyer and seller must wait for an update. If the NICS check is denied, you will need to find a different buyer.
What if I Give My Gun Away?
Any transfer of ownership of a firearm in Nevada requires a background check. There are some exceptions listed in NRS § 202.2548. The main exceptions include:
- Sale or transfer to any law enforcement agency
- Sale or transfer of antique firearms
- Sale or transfer to immediate family members
- Temporary transfer to an eligible person under certain circumstances
The definition of immediate family includes:
- Spouses and domestic partners
- Grandparents and grandchildren
- Aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews
The law does specify that there need be no biological tie. There is no differentiation between a full-blood, half-sibling, or adopted sibling. Do not interpret that as “everyone is my brother,” as the penalties for illegal transfer are stiff.
Can I Give a Gun to My Father-in-Law?
No, at least not directly. Theoretically, you could transfer ownership to your spouse, and they could transfer ownership to your father-in-law. We do not recommend bypassing the law.
Penalties for Violating the Background Check Act
The first offense violating the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 is a gross misdemeanor. It can include county jail time up to 364 days, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. You could be awarded one to five years in state prison, a fine as high as $10,000, or both for a second offense.
My Friend Failed the Background Check – Can They Appeal?
If your friend received a denial after the background check, they could appeal the decision through the FBI. The process, called a firearm-related challenge, applies only to denied background checks. There is a separate process for delayed responses.
To begin the appeals process online, you can visit the Identity History Summary Checks page and follow the instructions there. This provides you with a record of why your background check was denied. You would need to complete the process to have erroneous information corrected.
My Friend Is 19: Can I Sell Them a Handgun?
The minimum age requirement for purchasing a handgun from a dealer is 21 in Nevada. However, the minimum age to own a firearm, including handguns, is 18. Even though a dealer cannot sell your friend a handgun, you may as long as they have passed the background check.
Is a Background Check Required to Buy Ammunition?
No, no permits or background checks are necessary for ammunition purchases. There are federal and state regulations on purchasing certain types of ammunition. For example, you may not buy armor-piercing rounds.
Have Questions About the Nevada Gun Law?
Gun regulations can be confusing. If you have questions about privately selling, buying, or possessing firearms in Nevada, you can reach out to De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers.