Nevada Background Check Act Requirements for Private Gun Sales & Transfers (Effective January 2, 2020)

The Nevada Background Check Act, enacted into law in February 2019, went into effect on January 2, 2020. By requiring background checks for most sales and transfers of firearms between unlicensed individuals, the new law closes the gap created by the private sale exemption in federal law, which also is called the “gun show loophole.”

Under the new state law, a person who is not a licensed dealer under federal law must comply with the background check requirement for any gun sale or transfer, unless the transaction falls under one of the exceptions in the Act. Criminal penalties apply to violations.

Nevada joins more than 20 other states and the District of Columbia in requiring background checks for private gun sales. These laws are sometimes referred to as universal background check laws.

Nevada Background Check Procedure for Firearm Sales & Transfers Between Unlicensed Persons

At present, federal law requires background checks only for guns sold through federally licensed firearms dealers. An exemption in the federal statute allows individuals not engaged in the business of selling firearms to sell guns without having a license or keeping records. For sales and transfers in the State of Nevada, The Background Check Act eliminates that exemption as of January 2, 2020.

The Nevada statute (NRS 202.254 and 202.2531 through 202.2543) requires that a federally licensed firearms dealer conduct a background check on the buyer or transferee prior to any sale or transfer between unlicensed individuals. The dealer may charge a reasonable fee for conducting the check and facilitating a transfer between unlicensed individuals.

To accomplish the required check, the seller/transferor and buyer/transferee appear jointly before the licensed dealer and request the background check. If the dealer agrees to conduct a background check for a private sale or transfer, the dealer takes possession of the firearm and complies with all requirements of federal and state law, including recordkeeping requirements, as if the sale or transfer were occurring through the dealer’s inventory, except that:

  • The license dealer contacts the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, rather than the Nevada Central Repository, to determine the buyer’s/transferee’s eligibility to purchase and possess firearms.
  • The seller/transferor may remove the gun from the dealer’s business premises while the check is being conducted. However, the seller and buyer/transferee must return to the business premises and give the firearm to the dealer prior to completion of the sale or transfer.

The licensed dealer must inform the seller/transferor and buyer/transferee of the results of the background check. If the buyer/transferee is not eligible to purchase or possess the firearm, the dealer must return the gun to the seller/transferor. The seller/transferor is prohibited from selling or transferring the gun to the buyer/transferee.

Exceptions to the Background Check Requirement for Private Gun Sales & Transfers

The Nevada law includes the following exceptions to the background check requirement for private sales and transfers:

  • Transactions by or to a law enforcement agency
  • A sale or transfer by to a peace officer, security guard entitled to carry a gun under Nevada gun regulations, military member, or federal official, to the extent the individual is acting within the scope of employment and official duties
  • A sale or transfer of an antique firearm, as defined in federal law
  • A transaction between immediate family members, defined in the law as spouses, domestic partners, and individuals related by whole or half blood, adoption, or step-relation as parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews
  • A transfer by an executor, administrator, trustee, or personal representative of an estate or trust by operation of law following the death of the gun owner

In addition, the law permits temporary transfers of a gun in two types of situations. The first type of permissible temporary transfer occurs if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The temporary transfer is to a person not prohibited from buying or possessing a gun under state or federal law,
  • The transfer is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm, and
  • The transfer lasts only long enough to prevent the death or harm.

Temporary transfers also are permitted in certain activities, if the transferor has no reason to believe that the transferee is prohibited from possessing or buying a firearm, or that the transferee will use or intends to use the gun to commit a crime. When that condition is met, temporary transfers are allowed as follows:

  • At an established, legally authorized shooting range
  • At a lawfully organized competition involving the use of guns
  • During an organized group’s practice or participation in a performance that uses guns as part of the public performance
  • During legal hunting or trapping, if the transferee has the licenses or permits required for the hunting or trapping activity
  • While the transferee is in the presence of the transferor

Penalties for Violation of the Nevada Background Check Law

The first conviction for sale or transfer between unlicensed individuals that violates the provisions of The Background Check Act is a gross misdemeanor. Penalties include county jail time up to 364 days; a fine of up to (and including) $2,000; or both.

Second and subsequent convictions constitute a category C felony. Penalties include state prison time of not less than one (1) year and up to five (5) years; a fine of up to (and including) $10,000; or both.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Las Vegas Firearm Law Attorney

The Gersten Law Firm assists clients with questions and charges relating to Nevada state and federal gun and firearm laws. Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten understands the significant implications that a gun or weapon conviction can have on your future.

Attorney Gersten has exceptional knowledge of guns and firearm offenses. He is an approved Concealed Firearm Instructor for Nevada and Utah and is certified by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in more than nine (9) disciplines.

There is no charge for your initial consultation with Attorney Gersten. To discuss gun charges or issues in Las Vegas or elsewhere in Clark County, contact The Gersten Law Firm to schedule your free consultation.