LAS VEGAS — A Nevada judge is due to hear arguments Friday in a lawsuit seeking enforcement of a voter-approved gun background-check law that has not been enforced since it passed in November 2016.
The measure sought to close a legal loophole that proponents said let people skip background screening when buying guns from another person or online.
About two dozen protesters gathered outside the courthouse ahead of the hearing.
Former Las Vegas-area sheriff Bill Young, a longtime proponent of the gun-control measure and a protest speaker, accused Nevada politicians of blocking enactment of the measure both before and after a gunman in a high-rise casino shot into an concert crowd on the Las Vegas Strip last Oct. 1, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more.
Protest organizer Andrew Woods also pointed to the Feb. 14 shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people.
"This is going on all over the United States," Young said ahead of the protest. "But I'm concerned about Las Vegas and Nevada. The politicians are not smarter and do not know more than the citizens of our state."
They concede the measure wouldn't have prevented the Las Vegas gunman from legally obtaining the cache of assault-style weapons he used to unleash the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
But they say it could help keep guns away from other people who shouldn't have them by requiring background checks through a licensed gun dealer when most firearms change hands.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and GOP state Attorney General Adam Laxalt call the initiative legally flawed because they say Nevada can't force the FBI to expend federal resources to conduct gun buyer background checks through the National Crime Information Center.8 comments on this story
"Clearly, the voters of Nevada have indicated that they want background checks for the private party sale of firearms," the governor said in a statement Friday. He vetoed a legislative measure in 2013 similar to the initiative that passed in by less than 1 percentage point.
Sandoval said Nevada is still conducting state background checks with a system that he called more thorough than federal background checks because it includes buyer mental health and criminal records relating to domestic violence, misdemeanor crimes, arrest reports and restraining orders that are not included in the federal review.