- Associated Press - Sunday, July 20, 2014

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Carson District Judge James Wilson has set an Aug. 1 hearing on a move to block an initiative petition to expand background checks to nearly all gun sales in Nevada.

A group called Nevadans for Background Checks filed the petition on June 20, saying it was spurred by Gov. Brian Sandoval’s veto of similar legislation passed by the 2013 Legislature.

But a group of opponents filed a lawsuit on July 14 to block the initiative. Among other objections, opponents say the petition fails to make clear that it would impose criminal penalties “even for a sale between law abiding citizens.”

Opponents also said the language should be changed to make it clear to voters that “it criminalizes formerly voluntary conduct,” the Nevada Appeal reported (http://bit.ly/1n6KU7S ).

Organizers said 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.

The petition would require unlicensed gun sales and transfers at gun shows and online to be conducted through a licensed dealer. Exceptions would include sales or transfers involving law enforcement and antique firearms.

Background checks have been proven to dramatically reduce crime and save lives by preventing convicted felons, domestic-abuse perpetrators and the seriously mentally ill from buying firearms, organizers said.

Supporters must gather 101,667 signatures by Nov. 11.

If the group does so, state lawmakers then would vote to approve or reject the petition in 2015. If rejected, the measure would go to Nevada voters in 2016.

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Information from: Nevada Appeal, http://www.nevadaappeal.com