Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to the 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.)
Beginning in 2020, Nevada will require sales and transfers between private individuals to be processed through a federally licensed dealer to ensure that a background check is conducted.1
Some transfers are exempt from this requirement. They include:
- Transfers to law enforcement agencies as well as to law enforcement officers, security guards, federal officials or members of the armed forces if they are acting within the scope of their employment
- Transfers of antique firearms2
- Transfers between immediate family members3
- Transfers to the executor of an estate
- Temporary transfers for hunting, competition, or for use at a shooting range4
See our Universal Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- In 2016, Nevada voters approved a ballot initiative to require background checks on private sales of firearms. 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. The Nevada legislature mooted this conflict by passing 2019 NV SB 143. See Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 202.254; The New York Times, Nevada Question 1 — Expand Gun Background Checks — Results: Approved, Feb., 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/nevada-ballot-measure-1-expand-gun-background-checks?mcubz=3 ; 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.
- Antique firearm is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921 (a)(16).
- Immediate family members include: spouses and domestic partners and any of the following relations, whether by whole or half blood, adoption, or step-relation: parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
- For a full list of exempt transfers, see 2019 NV SB 143 section 6.