Gun sale back­ground check bill ex­pected

Mea­sure would set stricter state pro­ce­dure

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - FROM THE COVER FOLLOW THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS IN THE RJ - By Bill Dentzer Re­view-jour­nal Cap­i­tal Bureau

CAR­SON CITY — What is of­ten a slug­gish sec­ond week in the Leg­is­la­ture will ramp up swiftly Mon­day with the ex­pected in­tro­duc­tion of a gun sales back­ground check bill that could be heard in com­mit­tee, ap­proved by law­mak­ers and signed by the gover­nor be­fore the end of the week.

Un­der that timetable, Nevada could have a work­able sys­tem of stricter back­ground checks on its books in time for Thurs­day’s first an­niver­sary of the mass shoot­ing at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Florida, which killed 17 and in­jured sev­eral oth­ers.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Leader Kelvin Atkin­son, dis­cussing the mea­sure Thurs­day, noted the im­mi­nent an­niver­sary and a “de­sire from our folks to re­spect that and honor the folks af­fected by that.”

The bill, still be­ing drafted Fri­day, is ex­pected to ful­fill the in­tent of a 2016 voter-ap­proved ini­tia­tive to re­quire the FBI to per­form back­ground checks on pri­vate-party gun trans­fers. The FBI, as a fed­eral agency, balked at car­ry­ing out a state-spon­sored di­rec­tive. The new mea­sure is ex­pected to set up a state pro­ce­dure for the en­hanced sys­tem of checks.

The leg­isla­tive ac­tion is ex­pected to draw sup­port­ers, ac­tivists and lob­by­ists from both sides of the gun con­trol de­bate to oc­cupy the Capi­tol for at least the first half of the week. Sup­port­ive Demo­cratic ma­jori­ties in both houses, with a gover­nor who made gun con­trol a cen­tral theme of his can­di­dacy, vir­tu­ally en­sure the mea­sure will pass.

A joint meet­ing of the Sen­ate and As­sem­bly ju­di­ciary com­mit­tees is sched­uled for 8 a.m. Tues­day to hear the bill. Leg­is­la­tion would have to hit the floors of both the As­sem­bly and Sen­ate on Mon­day to hew to that hear­ing sched­ule. Law­mak­ers in both cham­bers would have to vote to sus­pend nor­mal rules to ex­pe­dite ac­tion on the bill.

Sev­eral is­sues might slow the mea­sure. Sus­pen­sion of rules re­quires two-thirds ap­proval of each house. Democrats hold that ma­jor­ity in the As­sem­bly but not in the Sen­ate, where Repub­li­cans could de­cline to fast-track the bill. But Repub­li­cans might ac­cede, view­ing the push for swift ac­tion as a po­ten­tial li­a­bil­ity for Democrats down the road.

And ques­tions of fund­ing could shape the de­bate. The cost of en­hanced back­ground checks was put at $650,000 in a fi­nan­cial im­pact note that ac­com­pa­nied the 2016 ini­tia­tive, an amount po­ten­tially off­set by a $25 fee on each back­ground check. Whether costs are cov­ered by ex­ist­ing state funds or by new fees, who pays the fee and whether the fee is in­stead la­beled a tax are all un­re­solved ques­tions.

Con­tact Bill Dentzer at [email protected] re­viewjour­ or 775-461-0661. Fol­low @Dentzernews on Twit­ter.

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