It's pretty much common knowledge at this point that there are no guns on the shelves in Nevada gun stores. Well, that's hyperbole, but the sentiment is true. Guns are hard to come by in stores and online. Wholesalers and online retailers who have stock are having trouble shipping because of demand.
March brought a TON of people into the firearms community as they panicked over the social unrest COVID-19 may bring. As we saw, stores were stripped of guns and ammo. Carson City was so beleaguered by background checked that the system crashed. Additional staff were brought in to help clear the backlog that is still being cleared out.
During this time of panic, lots of uninformed people who never considered buying a gun tried to buy one. From California to New Jersey, Americans found out that they were lied to about online gun sales. With a few minor exceptions, you cannot just order a gun online and have it shipped to your door.
The "Online Loophole"
The whole "online loophole" garbage was nothing but propaganda and lies. What it refers to is that people can advertise a gun for sale online, like a newspaper classified. Heck, in some papers you can still advertise guns for sale in the classifieds. Online classified sites like Craigslist used to allow this. Online gun ads are most common on local gun forums or online sites like Gunbroker or Armslist.
These ads were just that. They facilitated the buyer meeting the seller face-to-face to sell the gun. In most states (even now), no paperwork was required. Money and guns changed hands. This freaked out the anti-gunners because there was no ATF Form 4473 that could be later tracked down, should the gun be used in a crime.
And a fraction of guns used in crime come from private sales. While the point is now moot in Nevada, most crime guns are obtained legally through dealers, stolen, or given to someone ineligible to possesses one (like a felon) in a transaction that isn't caught by the police. No law has ever stopped the street drug dealer (or gun dealer) from selling guns on the black market to criminals.
Why Can't I Buy a Gun Online and Have it Shipped to Me?
Short answer, background checks. Longer answer: direct sales via mail order was stopped in 1968 by the Gun Control Act which created the whole Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL, or gun dealer) system, meaning that today not just anyone can sell you a gun. This was the end result of a compromise to try and create total, national gun registration.
Using a long an laborious process, guns can be traced to the dealer that initially sold them, which is basically a long-hand and inaccurate gun registration system. Dealer licensing and gun tracing has it's origins in the 1930s to see where bootleggers and criminals got their guns (at that time, machine guns in particular).
After the Brady Bill went into effect in 1994, it eventually became necessary for dealers to run background checks through NICS or the state center. While an online background check system would be possible, it would not be possible to know who the gun is ultimately going to when it ships. Of course, someone could just buy the gun for a prohibited person at gun store and give the gun to a bad buy (it's called a straw purchase and it happens all the time). Background checks are mainly a way for the government and the ignorant public to feel good and also to make things slightly more complicated for criminals.
Ways to Actually Buy a Gun Online
There are two ways to buy a gun online and have it shipped directly to you (depending on state, this is specifically for Nevada). Yes, these weapons are EXEMPT from Nevada's "universal background check" law per NRS 202.2541.
1. A pre-1899 manufactured firearm (or a replica);
Firearms manufactured before 1899 (made in 1898 or earlier), are considered "antiques" by the federal government and Nevada. See 18 USC § 921(a)(16). This includes their replicas, which are modern built reproductions of the same weapons. So if you want to buy a Colt Walker revolver reproduction made by an Italian company, go ahead. Cabelas will ship it right to you. You can also obtain more modern cartridge revolvers and even centerfire smokeless rifles, if you happen to like the 1890s stuff.
As far as replicas go, it is possible to purchase a replica cap-and-ball black powder handgun and have it shipped directly to you. Then you can buy a cylinder replacement that allows you to use cartridges instead of load the cap, power, wad, and balls separately. This is also perfectly legal, but the cylinder replacements are expensive and one has to be careful to use low-power ammunition that replicates the black powder load. Modern cartridges might fit, but smokeless powder creates pressures the pistol was not capable of handling.
These weapons are not ideal for self-defense, but if they are in good condition and fire a smokeless cartridge that is commonly available, antique weapons could be viable. But again, if you are new to guns, stay away from them as a defensive weapon.
2. Any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition.
Many common sporting goods retailers sell these types of guns alongside their replica black powder weapons. These are generally specialty weapons intended for people who are into that kind of thing. This includes people looking for a challenge, people who cannot own modern guns, or hunters who want a shot at the early black powder season Most of these weapons are single shot, except for some double-barrel shotguns. Generally, you do not want to use a black powder weapon in self-defense.
Yes, the above weapons are EXEMPT from Nevada's "universal background check" law per NRS 202.2541.
Less Common Exceptions
In some states, you can qualify for purchase from the Civilian Marksmanship Program and have an M1 Garand shipped right to your door. They do perform a background check and send rifles via registered mail, so it's not exactly like Amazon Prime. But the stock is getting pretty thin at the CMP and people panicking and buying guns won't meet the club and shooting requirements.
Another less common exemptions are is a Curio and Relic license (C&R). These are guns that are:
To obtain a C&R license, you still have to apply for one and find eligible guns, which are not cheap and not what you would use for self-defense. These can ship directly to licensees, who then log them for ATF purposes.
"But this is so wrong!"
Yeah, gun control isn't fair. It limits the availability and access to firearms by law-abiding people who need them in order to control a very small fraction of the population. Advocates for gun control have lied to you. They manipulated your emotions, used deceptive powers of perpetuation, and deliberately misconstrued facts and arguments to get you to support bad laws and bad politicians. The problems with the gun market today is because of gun control.
To get out of this mess, if you are just waking up, you need to stop voting for gun control. Gun control isn't for criminals; it's for you. Stop voting for Democrats; seriously. Their party supports gun control and will crush any Democratic candidate who won't. Don't vote for any gun control bill no matter what is promised. Join pro-gun activist groups and donate to organizations like the Nevada Firearms Coalition (and their PAC), the Second Amendment Foundation, the Gun Owners of America (GOA), the Firearm Policy Center, and, if you have to, the NRA (but give any donations to the NRA-ILA, which actually gets involved in legislative affairs).