How is the process for purchasing firearms in California different from Nevada?

Following the horrific massacre at a Las Vegas concert Sunday, Americans are talking about the nation's gun laws.

The shooter opened fire from his 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing at least 59 people and wounding 527 more. Authorities found the shooter dead in his hotel room with at least 23 weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Law enforcement searched Paddock's home and found even more weapons — 18 firearms, explosives, and unidentified electronic devices, as well as thousands more of rounds of ammunition.

Authorities believe some of the weapons used in the mass shooting were converted to operate similar to a fully automatic weapon

In Nevada, it is legal to possess, buy and sell a machine gun or silencer that is legally registered and possessed in compliance with all federal laws and regulations, according to the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Machine guns registered and possessed before May 19, 1989 are legal under federal law, but are tightly regulated. Semi-automatic weapons assault-style weapons are also legal in Nevada.

Individuals over the age of 18 in Nevada don't need a permit or license to buy or possess shotguns, rifles or handguns. Additionally, gun owners can openly carry their firearms in public as long as its not at a school or university campus, according to Nevadacarry.org, an online resource for gun laws and rights in the state.

Nevada does have a universal background check requirement at the point of transfer of any firearm by a licensed dealer. However, private sales do not require a background check.

All online gun sales in the U.S are required by federal law to be completed at a federally licensed gun dealer, so the same background check is required for internet sales in Nevada.

The process for purchasing a gun in Nevada is fairly simply.

A person wanting to purchase a firearm from a gun dealer, as Paddock did for some of the weapons found by authorities, is given a Form 4473 to fill out, according to Nevada Carry.

The form is a document used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to keep records of firearms transactions. A copy of the purchaser's Nevada ID is made and if the individual has a concealed firearm permit (CCW), a copy of the permit is also made.

The dealer then contacts the Nevada Point-Of-Contact, managed by the Department of Public Safety to conduct an in-state background check. The POC then proceeds to let the dealer know whether to deny or accept the sale. 

Federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to criminals, individuals with substance abuse issues, domestic violence offenders, the mentally ill, those dishonorably charged from the U.S. military and undocumented citizens.

There is no limit on the number of guns a person can purchase in Nevada.

California gun laws are much stricter than the laws in Nevada. In fact, while Nevada has some of the most lax laws in the nation, the Golden State has some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S.

With limited exceptions, California bans the sale and possession of any assault weapon, .50 Caliber BMG rifles and magazines, unless the weapon was obtained prior to the date it was defined as an assault weapon and is registered with the state Department of Justice (DOJ), according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The Law Center states, the DOJ can issue permits for the manufacture, sale, or possession of assault weapons to certain law enforcement agencies and officers and to approved individuals over the age of 18. The DOJ must conduct a yearly inspection, or every five years for a person has fewer than five permitted firearms, of every person who is issued a permit, for security and safe storage practices, and to take inventory of assault weapons.

A new California law extended the ban to include certain rifles and pistols with magazine locking devices known as "bullet buttons".

Machine guns and fully automatic devices are completely outlawed.

The DOJ also makes it illegal to convert a firearm into an automatic weapon. The DOJ does issue permits for automatic weapons to individuals showing good cause, but according to the NRA, it is nearly impossible to obtain one of these permits.

California residents must have a permit to buy rifles, shotguns and handguns and must register the devices upon purchase. Licenses are not required. Open carrying is illegal and it is also illegal to carry a loaded shotgun, rifle or handgun in a public place where firing is not permitted, according to the NRA.

The process of purchasing a firearm in California requires more steps than in Nevada.

Generally, all firearms purchases and transfers in California, including sales between private parties and at gun shows, must be made through a California licensed dealer under the Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) process, according to the DOJ.

Even if a person plans to privately transfer a gun to another person, it's required to do so through a licensed dealer.

California law requires a 10-day waiting period before a firearm can be released to a purchaser or transferee. Just like in Nevada, a purchaser is required to undergo a universal background check to make sure they are not prohibited from buying a gun.

A person has to be at least 18-years-old to buy a shotgun or rifle and 21 to buy a handgun. All purchasers must provide a California ID or driver's license and proof of California residence, such as a utility bill or rental lease. 

In addition, a purchaser must have Handgun Safety Certificate (HSC), which is a written test on handgun safety and also must perform a safe handling demonstration prior to taking home their firearm from a dealer or taking a delivery.

If a person isn't a U.S. citizen, they have to provide proof that they are legally within the country to buy a firearm.

For a full look at California's firearms laws, click HERE.

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