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.

See our Private Sales 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. ⤴︎