- Associated Press - Saturday, August 2, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Supporters of an initiative petition to expand background checks to nearly all gun sales in Nevada will soon begin gathering signatures after claiming a court victory.

Carson District Judge James Wilson on Friday struck down most of the arguments of the Nevada Firearms Coalition over the wording of the petition. The group opposes the petition.

Wilson ordered a minor wording change noting there would be criminal penalties for failure to obey the proposed new law, but rejected other wording changes sought by the firearms coalition.

The judge said the petition must mention that first-time offenders would face a gross misdemeanor and repeat offenders would face a felony.

Attorney Rue Goodenow, who represents the petition opponents, acknowledged at the start of the hearing the challenge was aimed only at the description of the petition’s effect, not the petition itself.

Supporters say the proposal, spurred by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s veto of similar legislation passed by the 2013 Legislature, would require background checks for private gun sales.

They say the proposal is intended to close a loophole in federal law that only requires licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks of potential buyers to make sure they are not legally prohibited from possessing firearms.

Backers say background checks have been proven to reduce crime and save lives by preventing convicted felons, domestic-abuse offenders and the seriously mentally ill from buying firearms.

If the group Nevadans for Background Checks gathers 101,667 signatures by Nov. 11, state lawmakers then would vote to approve or reject the petition in 2015. If rejected, the measure would go to Nevada voters in 2016.