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Nevada Background Checks Initiative Under Fire From NRA

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This November, Nevadans will vote whether to expand background checks to private gun sales. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray reports the National Rifle Association opposes the ballot initiative arguing that’s not how criminals are getting their weapons.

Background checks are not required in unlicensed gun sales or at gun shows in Nevada. This ballot measure would shut that loophole.

But, speaking with our partner KNPR in Las Vegas, NRA spokesperson Catherine Mortensen says that’s not how most criminals get guns.

“They got it from another criminal associate; they got it from a family member; they got it through a straw purchase; that’s where they send someone else in to buy it for them," Mortensen says. "These criminals are going around the background check system already.”

Earlier this month, the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers endorsed the initiative. Richard McCann, spokesperson for the state’s largest law enforcement group says that keeping a gun from even one wrong person would be worth it.

“Because if we save a life, if we save a family, save one of these officers, I don’t think there’s any price that can be put on that," McCann says.

Without background checks, unlicensed merchants can sell to convicted domestic abusers and those with documented severe mental illness. 

Anh is a contributing editor for the KUNR news team and has been with the station since 2014. She is an alumna of the Boston University School of Public Health and Teachers College, Columbia University.