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August 15, 2018

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Former Facebook president donates to Nevada gun-control ballot measure

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Paul Sakuma / AP

Sean Parker, a managing partner of Founder’s Fund, speaks at the Web. 2.0 Conference on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, in San Francisco. Parker was co-founder of Napster.

Tech tycoon Sean Parker forayed into Nevada politics by donating $250,000 to a controversial gun control initiative being debated in Nevada.

Parker, a co-founder of music downloading site Napster and Facebook’s first president, gave the sum to Nevadans for Background Checks, an arm of a nationwide movement campaigning for tighter background check laws on all gun purchases in the state.

Gun advocates say a stricter law would close a gap that will keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. Opponents of the background check efforts say the law will be a new layer of bureaucracy infringing on the Second Amendment.

Nevada requires mental health and criminal background checks for anyone buying guns from a licensed firearm dealer. But state law doesn’t require checks on consumers purchasing guns from private, third-party dealers.

Last year, Nevadans for Background Checks rekindled the state’s background check debate by collecting about 250,000 signatures — almost double the requirement — to get the initiative on the 2016 ballot.

The group launched the effort in the wake of the 2013 legislative session, which saw Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval veto a bill mandating checks on third-party sales.

Because the effort gained enough signatures, state lawmakers will have an opportunity to vote on it within the first 40 days of the upcoming legislative session. If lawmakers fail to pass it as a bill, the initiative will automatically land on the ballot.

State campaign finance reports showed Parker on a list alongside a $1.9 million contribution from Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group bankrolling Nevadans for Background Checks and funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Parker, known for his groundbreaking online innovations, is enamored with politics. He is chairman of Brigade, a nonpartisan group dedicated to spurring political engagement. He’s also contributed to moderate Republicans fighting Tea Party candidates in primary races.

The Nevada contribution was one of many he’s made around the country. His name has appeared in races in Virginia, New Jersey and presidential races.

Parker isn’t the only big name to make news for Nevadans for Background Checks. Casino mogul Elaine Wynn announced on Friday that she was chairing its state advisory board.

“Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill isn’t a political issue; it’s common sense,” Wynn said in a statement.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to describe Brigade as a nonpartisan group. | (January 20, 2015)

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