LAS VEGAS — Nevadans for Background Checks today launched a statewide signature gathering effort for the Background Check Initiative, a ballot measure that would help keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers and the severely mentally ill by closing dangerous loopholes in Nevada state law.

During an event held at Victory Missionary Baptist Church in Las Vegas, law enforcement, clergy, and other community leaders today became the first to sign a petition to place the Background Check Initiative on the November 2016 ballot.  Over the next few months, Nevadans for Background Checks will lead an effort to gather more than 100,000 signatures from throughout the state.

Right now, federal law requires background checks on gun sales at licensed dealers; but guns can be legally purchased from unlicensed sellers—online, at gun shows and even from strangers in parking lots—without any background check, no questions asked.  The Background Check Initiative creates a level playing field where all gun sellers must follow the same set of rules, making sure everyone undergoes the same background check when buying a gun.

According to Dr. Robert E. Fowler, pastor of the Victory Missionary Baptist Church, public safety goes hand in hand with community betterment and creating safe and healthy places.  “We are confident those from the various religious communities in Nevada will embrace this common sense approach to reducing gun violence,” Dr. Fowler said.  “Nearly every day there is a shooting in our communities, so the need to take action is immediate.  We are proud to support Nevadans for Background Checks and invite other churches and people of faith to join us in supporting this important initiative.”

“Background checks are real life-savers for thousands of women in our country and our state who are being abused,” said Lisa Lynn Chapman, director of community relations for Safe Nest, a Las Vegas-area domestic violence crisis center. “In states that require background checks for all gun sales, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners. It’s hard to ignore those kinds of numbers. We encourage Nevadans to stand with these women and children by signing the initiative.”

According to Senator Justin Jones, who championed during the 2013 Nevada legislature a similar bill that was ultimately vetoed by Governor Brian Sandoval, the Background Check Initiative takes into consideration the Governor’s concerns. Unlike SB 221, The Background Check Initiative allows Nevadans to sell or give a legally purchased gun to a family member without a background check, and includes common-sense exemptions for hunting, sporting and self-defense loans.

“The Background Check Initiative has no impact on existing gun laws in Nevada,” said Jones.  “Under The Background Check Initiative, unlicensed sellers would meet their buyers at a licensed gun dealer, who would then conduct a background check.  It’s quick and easy to get a background check,” Jones continued.  “Over 90% of federal background checks are completed instantaneously, and over 97% of Nevadans live within 10 miles of a licensed gun dealer.”

“Support for the Second Amendment goes hand in hand with keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Former Clark County Sheriff Bill Young.  “The Background Check Initiative will close loopholes in Nevada law that make it too easy for felons, domestic abusers and the severely mentally ill to buy guns– while upholding Nevadans’ Second Amendment rights.  It’s a nonpartisan, common sense approach to improving public safety and reducing gun violence that all Nevadans, including gun owners, can get behind”

Polling shows that 86 percent of Nevadans support background checks. Over the next two years, the campaign for the Background Check Initiative will secure widespread statewide support for background checks by building a broad coalition of gun violence survivors, law enforcement, domestic violence advocates, gun owners, families, community leaders, elected officials and concerned Nevadans. They will gather the more than 100,000 signatures from across the state required to put the initiative on the Nov. 2016 ballot.