Nevada Universal Background Check Proponents Lose Case in Court

Nevada universal background checks laxalt court ruling

In 2016, anti-Second Amendment zealot Michael Bloomberg was able to place Question 1 on the ballot in Nevada. The ballot initiative passed and mandated universal background checks in the state, covering even private party firearms sales.

Supporters of the Bloomberg initiative laid out over $18 million in support of the measure, outspending the opposition three to one. And that total doesn’t include money spent to put the initiative on the ballot. Despite the huge cash outlay, the measure only narrowly passed 558,631 for to 548,732 against.

But a funny thing happened on the way to common sense gun control. After the initiative passed, Nevada’s Attorney General ruled that the law couldn’t be implemented.

On December 28, 2016, Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt (R) said the initiative could not be enforced due to the refusal of the FBI to participate in the expanded background checks. Question 1 was designed to require background checks for firearm transfers between unlicensed individuals, also known as private-party sales, which would take place through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICBCS). According to a letter from the FBI to Nevada, “the recent passage of the Nevada legislation [Question 1] regarding background checks for private sales cannot dictate how federal resources are applied.” Furthermore, Nevada is one of 12 states with a state-run background checks system and does not depend on the FBI to perform existing background checks.

Supporters of the initiative have blamed the attorney general for their mistake and have challenged the ruling in court.

This week, the Nevada District Court found for the state and against the backers of the restrictions on private sales.


Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt applauded a Nevada District Court’s decision to toss out a lawsuit brought by the proponents of Nevada’s stillborn Background Check Act, also known as Question 1. The lawsuit sought to shift the blame for the broken initiative from its drafters to Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. The Court, in a comprehensive 22-page opinion, ruled that “as a matter of law, […] given the undisputed efforts to implement The Background Check Act, it is unenforceable as written.” The Court rejected each of the proponents’ legal claims, noting that their “arguments have shifted throughout this case” and that they “failed to provide this Court with any authority even remotely supporting” their legal argument. The Court also repeatedly commented on the falsity of the proponent’s factual allegations, observing that they “ignore the facts.” The Court chastised the proponents for their “charged” and “emotional appeals,” explaining they were “unfounded,” “without supporting evidence,” and “improperly placed before the judiciary.”

“The Court’s 22-page decision reaffirms what my office has been saying all along—that the Act ‘is unenforceable as written,’” said AG Laxalt. “This is not because of anything that I or other Nevada officials have failed to do; in the words of the Court, we have ‘undertaken a real and substantial effort to implement the law.’ Rather, it is a result of Question 1’s flawed drafting. It is unfortunate that the very same people who imposed this defective law on all Nevadans have gone to such lengths to use its brokenness as a reason to politically attack me and other Nevada’s elected officials through litigation. Hopefully, today’s careful decision puts an end to this practice.”

The judge’s order reaffirms that the Attorney General’s opinion “correctly identified and exposed several errors” in challengers’ misrepresentations about the 2016 ballot initiative. Shortly after the Question 1 initiative was passed, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wrote to the Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS) on two occasions stating that they would not conduct the background checks for Nevada because, among other reasons, a state law cannot mandate how federal resources are allocated. In a December 28, 2016 formal opinion requested by DPS, the Office of the Nevada Attorney General correctly opined that the law could not be implemented without the FBI’s cooperation.

The opinion in the case is here. It says essentially what Attorney General Laxalt stated earlier.

If the case had occurred in New York state, the result might have been different. In Nevada, the court followed the rule of law.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


  1. avatar Rick the Bear says:


    I don’t suppose that Mickey has run out of money though, eh? Many more states to go before he rests.

    1. avatar Adam says:

      Awesome thing about being rich is that you basically never run out of money. Investments will always insure that the bucket fills up faster than the hole drains out. Even when Bloomberg dies, we will still be seeing his money used to promote anti rights movements for generations in whatever trust fund he sets up in his will.

  2. avatar Leighton says:

    Love to see gun grabbers lose money

    1. avatar rosignol says:

      Unfortunately, Bloomberg has plenty of money to waste. Hopefully he’ll keep trying to save money by hiring third-rate lawyers to write flawed initiatives.

      1. avatar Kroglikepie says:

        It wasn’t flawed. It was written as is on purpose to avoid having to address the financial impact of the proposition. If they went through the state system, the financial impact would have sunk the initiative, and not even the illegal immigrant vote could have passed it in Clark County.

        They just never expected people to use their brains and follow the law in implementing it. Especially when money is involved. Typical commie mistake.

        1. avatar California Richard says:

          When trying to view this law, try to see it through the eyes of the gun granbbers and their motivations. For example:

          NJ “smart gun” law = no handgun sales in NJ.
          CA micro stamping law = no handgun sales in CA.
          NY, SF, Seatle, Chiraq, etc bullet tax = no ammo sales.
          Original Machinegun Tax Stamp Act = no machine guns, because they didn’t issue any stamps BUT the courts eventually forced them to issue the stamps.

          Whether it was implemented or not is irrelevant to these people. Their goal wasn’t “background checks for PP transfers” but the erradication of PP transfers. Without the FBI on board the transfers could not have taken place, which would have been a defacto shutdown.

    2. avatar HP says:

      Last I checked, Bloomberg was worth roughly $30 billion. That’s more money than the NRA has spent, raised, donated, paid out to employees, lobbied, litigated, wasted, etc…during it’s entire existence, to put it in perspective.

  3. avatar Danny L Griffin says:

    I wrote an article elsewhere on this back when it happened. The proposal passed with less than a 1% margin of victory. It was pushed as a zero-cost measure to the voters because, in their own words, if Nevadans would have had to pay for it it would have failed.

    Then when the FBI tells Nevada to pound sand, the anti-gunners are up in arms and tell the state to implement it using their own resources and finances. But the law is clear, the state / legislature can’t rewrite ballot proposals, especially after they’ve already been voted on.

    The initiative, as passed, is unenforceable.

    1. avatar Anymouse says:

      If I recall correctly, Nevada allows the legislature to amend or even repeal an initiative, but only after 3 years have passed since the election.

      1. avatar Kroglikepie says:

        Correct. The financial impact will kill this thing though. Especially after we ditched the handgun registry in Clark County.

        1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

          The problem here is two-fold:

          Clark is the county that carried Question 1.

          Should Sisolak win the Governorship, on top of a (now) blue legislature, they have the vote to make whatever adjustments they like and then have it rubber stamped by that wanker Sisolak.

        2. avatar Kroglikepie says:

          Indeed. I’m still hoping enough people see through shitbag Sisolak’s façade. He is pegging his entire campaign on Clark County, LV in particular.

          Honestly, I’m *very* annoyed we have both chambers blue in NV. Friggin’ Commiefornia retards keep voting for the very things they ran from.

  4. avatar Ing says:

    Saved by bureaucratic turf wars… I’ll take the result, but aside from the fact that there are still judges who respect the plain text of the law, it doesn’t inspire confidence in the future.

    The progs will learn from this mistake, and they’ll be back — with bureaucratic procedure ironed out and judges in their pocket. And the same people who fell for it before will do it again, only there’ll probably be more of them as the exodus from Californistan continues.

    1. avatar Whats-a-da-Matta-wit-you? says:

      “The progss wiil learn from this mistake, and they’ll be back”
      “The sand people frighten easily, but they’ll be back and in greater numbers”
      -obi wan Kenobi-

  5. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    This is what winning looks like.

  6. avatar m. says:

    some individuals should consider that…a lot of things can happen to dog s**t

  7. avatar RA-15 says:

    Nevada is definitely not the shithole that New York is !! This state is not for POTG. His highness gov C is a D… N.Y wins the award for the worst place to live in the US.

    1. avatar HP says:

      NYC takes that award. Upstate is pretty awesome, notwithstanding lousy gun laws (that are mostly ignored).

  8. avatar Baldwin says:

    If only SCOTUS could find it’s balls and act like this court.

    1. avatar rosignol says:

      Actuarially speaking, RBG and Breyer are likely to leave the court any time now. Be patient, play the long game, and don’t forget to vote.

      1. avatar Adam says:

        Where did you read this? RBG has stated several times that she is incredibly healthy and that she plans to stay on the court for 2 or even 6 more years (in order to avoid having her replacement picked by Trump.)

        I doubt the other Progressive justices will allow Trump to replace them either. The only way we are going to be seeing a progressive judge replaced by a Republican government is literally over their dead bodies.

        1. avatar KBonLI says:

          There really should be a way to remove senile justices.

        2. avatar Big E says:

          She’s still 85 and Breyer is 80. Time isn’t on their side, no matter their best intentions.

  9. avatar Timothy k Toroian says:

    Most private party sales I have been involved with were conducted through a licensed dealer who ran the usual BGC. Did they expect the FBI to give private citizens the phone number to run checks? This is what you get when people who don’t know their butts from the hole in the outhouse get involved in something outside their ability to think. Like Americans discussing the rules for soccer.

  10. avatar Ingenero says:

    At least they didn’t run this like California would. “The Federal Government won’t run those checks? Too bad, no more private party transfers!”

  11. avatar NM says:

    >Nevada’s stillborn Background Check Act

    Call it aborted. My State My Rights.

  12. avatar Kap says:

    Because Bloomberg is so Anti-American , Anti- Constitution, Anti Religion, he should disarm his private Security Forces Permanently, but because he is rich and Above the Law like Hillery he can do as he wants! with no consequences!

  13. avatar Roger says:

    $18 million is pocket change to Bloomberg.

  14. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

    AG Laxalt seems like a stand up guy. His grandfather, the late Sen. Paul Laxalt, was a helluva guy. A true American hero.

    AG Laxalt’s own father, well…..that’s another…and sordid….story.

  15. avatar Gun Owning American says:

    To quote Nelson Muntz, Haha.

  16. avatar American Patriot says:

    I have to thank the liberal school system for this, these days you don’t have to know how to read to graduate all you have to do is attend 3 liberal rallies. This Nevadan is greatful to all the idiots that drafted & made this bill possible for the ballot to be null & void.

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