Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Nevada does not currently enforce a law on the books requiring that a background check be performed prior to the transfer of a firearm between private parties. In 2016, Nevada voters approved a ballot initiative to require background checks on private sales of firearms.1 However, after the FBI announced that it would not conduct background checks in the manner the initiative required it to, the Nevada Attorney General issued an opinion stating that it would not enforce the initiative.2 Nevada does not prosecute individuals for failing to conduct the background checks required by the voter initiative.

Nevada is a point of contact state for firearm purchaser background checks. In Nevada, the Nevada Department of Public Safety (NDPS), through its Brady Point of Sale program, serves as the state point of contact for implementation of the Brady Act.3 Licensed dealers must process each firearm transfer through NDPS, which in turn uses NICS and other databases to verify that prospective purchasers are not prohibited from possessing a firearm.4

Federal law does not require dealers to conduct a background check if a firearm purchaser presents a state permit to purchase or possess firearms that meets certain conditions.5 As a result, holders of Nevada concealed carry permits issued on or after July 1, 2011 are exempt from the federal background check requirement.6 (Note, however, that people who have become prohibited from possessing firearms may continue to hold state permits to purchase or permit firearms if the state fails to remove these permits in a timely fashion.)

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. See Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 202.254; see also The New York Times, Nevada Question 1 — Expand Gun Background Checks — Results: Approved, Feb., 2017, at https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/nevada-ballot-measure-1-expand-gun-background-checks?mcubz=3. ⤴︎
  2. Office of the Attorney General of the State of Nevada, Opinion No. 2016-12 on Nevada Revised Statute 228.150, Dec. 28, 2016, https://www.scribd.com/document/335236577/Read-Nevada-AG-s-opinion-FBI-letter. ⤴︎
  3. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Mar. 6, 2012). ⤴︎
  4. For more information on the Point of Sale program, visit the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Point of Sale program page. ⤴︎
  5. Federal law exempts persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). ⤴︎
  6. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, U.S. Department. of Justice, Brady Law: Permanent Brady Permit Chart (Aug. 26, 2011), at: http://www.atf.gov/firearms/brady-law/permit-chart.html. ⤴︎