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Roberson introduces legislation to keep firearms from criminals and the mentally ill



CARSON CITY – Senate Republican leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, today introduced legislation to improve public safety in Nevada by keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

Senate Bill 520 strengthens the reporting requirements concerning a person’s mental health and criminal history for certain purposes relating to the purchase or possession of a firearm.

“This is essential legislation that prohibits criminals and individuals suffering from mental illness from purchasing a firearm. We must enact policies that keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or society,” stated Roberson.

“I am proud to be a sponsor of this common sense public safety policy,” stated Senator Barbara Cegavske. “This legislation safeguards public safety while guaranteeing Nevadans’ constitutional rights.”

“This bill provides enhanced measures to prevent disqualified individuals from possessing firearms while not authorizing the state to gather information about private gun purchases by law-abiding Nevadans who have already passed a background check, which I applaud and support,” cited Senator Mark Hutchison.

SB 520 also provides immunity from liability to private party sellers who voluntarily perform background checks, and waives the Central Repository fee to encourage utilization of the Repository for private party transactions.

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey affirmed his support for the bill, stating “This legislation will also incentivize private parties to conduct background checks when transferring a firearm by providing immunity from civil and criminal liability when a background check is conducted prior to the transfer.”

Additionally, the bill incorporates the mental health and criminal reporting requirements approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee’s amendments to Senate Bill 221 that outlines a “duty to notify” on behalf of mental health professionals when there’s a legitimate threat of violence against another person. It also shortens the timeline for submitting information into the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.

“These reporting requirements are important,” Roberson said. “Because SB 221 places additional burdens on the rights of law-abiding citizens, SB221 is not likely to become law. As such, I’ve decided to include those reporting requirements in SB 520.”

“SB221 has received a lot of criticism from the law enforcement community,” stated Senator James Settelmeyer. “This legislation takes into consideration the concerns of law enforcement while working to address critical public safety issues.”

Finally, SB 520 creates a prohibition under state law on straw purchases and/or transfers in the State of Nevada. A straw purchase is any purchase wherein an agent agrees to acquire a firearm for someone who is prohibited from purchasing or possessing the firearm legally for him or herself, and the agent transfers the firearm to that person after purchasing them.

“We are working to restructure Nevada’s law to ensure criminals and individuals suffering from mental illness and who pose a threat to themselves or others are restricted from purchasing firearms,” said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Ben Kieckhefer. “This legislation supports that objective while providing important protections for citizens who engage in private party firearm transactions.”

Senator Greg Brower also voiced his support for the bill. “As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that this bill addresses two of the most critical issues that currently undermine public safety: inadequate coordination between the mental health system and law enforcement, and the problem of straw purchases. This bill represents a very positive step in the right direction”

SB 520 has bipartisan support with 23 co-sponsors, as well as the support of Governor Brian Sandoval and law enforcement.

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