weather icon Clear

Nevada gun background checks bill clears Senate Finance

CARSON CITY — A bill requiring universal background checks for gun purchases won approval Tuesday in the Senate Finance Committee.

The vote to amend and pass Senate Bill 221 was on party lines with four Democrats in support and three Republicans opposed.

Sponsor Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, said concerns about the process to require private-sale gun background checks were resolved for enough lawmakers to win support for the bill in committee.

The vote came after a rally in front of the Legislative Building where family members of the Newtown, Conn., and the Carson City IHOP shootings asked Nevada lawmakers to support the bill.

At the rally, Gilles Rousseau, whose daughter Lauren, was among six educators and 20 first-graders killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December, asked the Legislature to approve the bill.

“Lauren died doing what she loved, teaching young children,” he said. “And she died in her classroom, while bravely trying to protect her children from danger.”

Nevada lawmakers have the chance to do something historic, Rousseau said.

He was joined by other speakers, including Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was also killed in Newtown, in asking for Nevada state lawmakers to pass the bill.

Background checks are critical to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people, he said.

“You are never going to be able to stop all the gun violence or prevent every shooting that occurs,” Heslin said. “But anything we can do to cut down the odds and the percentage and the chances of it occurring again is something that needs to be done.”

Tracy Kelly, whose husband and Nevada National Guardsman Heath Kelly was killed in the 2011 Carson City IHOP shooting, said her late husband’s birthday was May 20 and she celebrated it with her two children with handmade cards tied to a few balloons.

“I’m standing here today not to advocate any infringement to your rights regarding the Second Amendment, or to hinder the ability for law-abiding Americans to obtain firearms,” she said. “I’m here to support this legislation that perhaps may spare another family from having to go through what my family is going through every day.”

The bill still has a long way to go. To become law, it will require a favorable vote from the full Senate and then the Assembly with less than two weeks left in the session. Democrats have an 11-10 majority in the Senate, and a 27-15 majority in the Assembly.

Gov. Sandoval has not taken a stand on the bill, but did issue a statement Tuesday:

“The tragic loss of innocent lives at the Carson City IHOP, Sandy Hook Elementary, and in Arizona were terrible, heart-breaking events which left no one untouched. While we continue to work toward keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those who are mentally ill, we must also strike a balance to protect the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. The governor’s office has been in contact with Senator Jones and continues to monitor this bill.”

Jones said his bill would require federally licensed gun dealers to run the background checks and the fee will be limited to $30. The process will bypass the state Department of Public Safety and go directly to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This will eliminate any state cost.

More than 500 federally licensed firearms dealers operate around the state.

Jones said the background check could be performed within five minutes in 95 percent of the cases, allowing the sale to proceed immediately.

In cases where the check cannot be performed right away, Jones said the buyer and seller could just decide not to complete the check. Or they could leave the gun with the dealer until the check is complete, he said.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who sits on Senate Finance, expressed concerns about the background check process. He asked what enforcement mechanism is in the bill to go after private sellers who do not perform the sale using a licensed firearms dealer.

“What crimes are we stopping here,” he said.

Jones acknowledged that there is no provision in the bill to ensure that those types of sales will not occur.

“I’m not here to tell you or tell anybody else that this bill is going to solve every problem,” he said. “It won’t.”

Roberson asked Jones to keep working with him to generate bipartisan support for the measure.

Finance Chairwoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said she did not know if a perfect bill could be created to deal with the issue.

But it is time to make some hard decisions, she said.

Lawmakers need to figure out how to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those with mental health issues, Smith said.

Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said he is tired as a lawmaker of pushing issues down the road. It is time to move forward, he said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Nevada gets $3M in settlement for ITT students

Attorney General Aaron Ford announced his office has reached a settlement with Student CU Connect CUSO, a company that offered loans for students attending ITT Tech that Ford called abusive.