- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The Senate passed a Republican-backed bill Thursday that would make background checks free for gun sales between private parties, although it wouldn’t make them mandatory.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson is sponsoring SB240, which passed unanimously and now heads to the Assembly for consideration. Democrats unsuccessfully tried to add amendments barring convicted stalkers guns from having guns and requiring people under restraining orders to turn over their firearms. Those measures were part of a bill proposed by Democratic Sen. Debbie Smith that has not yet received a hearing.

“Expanding legal protections for domestic abuse survivors is common sense, and it shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Smith said in a statement after the vote. “We are disappointed that our Republican colleagues failed to support these proposals. Nevada’s women deserve better.”

SB240 prohibits mentally ill convicts from owning a gun and removes the $35 fee for background checks for private gun sales. It also criminalizes the practice of buying a gun for another person and beefs up reporting requirements on criminal history and mental illness.

Roberson said the bill would keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill without infringing on constitutional rights.

A separate measure mandating background checks on gun purchases will appear on the 2016 ballot.

Senators last week passed a Republican-backed bill strengthening gun laws against domestic abusers. SB175, which passed 14-5 with some Democrats in opposition, would prohibit a person from owning a gun if they’ve been convicted of domestic violence, or from purchasing one if there’s a restraining order filed against them.

The measure also expanded the definition of justifiable homicide and made other changes to Nevada gun law that some Democrats opposed.

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