Virginia has become another state, on an ever-increasing list, to include “universal background checks” to the books. This adds an additional level of bureaucracy to the purchase and transfer of firearms in Virginia from a private seller.
It has long been the law, both federal and state, that you are not allowed to sell a firearm to a person you know or believe to be prohibited from possessing one. This writing of the law puts the citizen in control of their actions and gives them the choice of how to sell a privately owned firearm. You know freedom!!
Now, as of July 1, 2020, you must seek out a licensed firearms dealer or the State Police to perform a background check. This includes any purchase at a gun show, and any firearm you sell for “money”. It does not include loaning or gifting of guns, but remember, they still can not be a prohibited possessor.
No person shall sell a firearm for money, goods, services or anything else of value unless he has obtained verification from a licensed dealer in firearms that information on the prospective purchaser has been submitted for a criminal history record information check as set out in § 18.2-308.2:2 and that a determination has been received from the Department of State Police that the prospective purchaser is not prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm or such sale is specifically exempted by state or federal law.
A Couple of Interesting Points
This process will cost you! The law says a dealer can charge no more than $15 for the service and $2 for the background check. In general, licensed dealers will charge between $25 and $50 for a transfer from an online or out of state purchase. For this reason, not all dealers will participate in this activity and thankfully the state does not force dealers to participate.
There are currently only 167 dealers in the state that have confirmed they are participating, but technically any of them can. So check with your local shop before heading over.
If the seller leaves the firearm with the dealer who is performing the transfer, the gun is now controlled by the dealer. This means, if the background check on the buyer is denied, then the seller has to go through the background process to get it back. If the seller is also denied then the firearm remains under the dealer’s control.
Once you leave the premises of the dealer, by law the dealer has to enter the firearm into their inventory logbook
To remove the firearm from the log requires a background check
For this fact, we urge sellers to stay with the firearm until the transaction is complete. It is a lot of paperwork, so pack your patience and schedule accordingly. Be prepared to complete the process in one visit.
For private firearms transfers in Virginia, the process is fairly straight forward and follows the same path as buying a gun from a dealer. I have added a few optional steps that you can choose to do but they are not required by law.
Bill of Sale (optional)
– For documentation purposes, it is a good idea to have a formal Bill of Sale between the two private parties. If the police come knocking you will be glad you had it. Check out this article for more – Tip for Keeping Records of your Firearms
Stolen check (optional) – With the owner’s consent, the dealer can perform a check with the state to see if the gun was reported stolen. This is a good idea if you don’t know the seller very well.
State form SP-65 – A Virginia State form, this will be completed by the buyer to authorize a background check through the state NICS system.
Federal form 4473 – This form will be started by the dealer then filled in and signed by the buyer.
Background check – Finally, the background check can be performed. The response from the web-based tool usually returns within 5 minutes or less.
Dealer finalization – Lastly, the dealer completes the two forms with the background check information and logs the firearm in and out of their logbook.
Denial – If the background check returns denied, and the seller has not left, the seller is allowed to leave with the gun, however, the price for the check ($17) will still be collected.
This is a process, but any licensed dealer will be able to help you navigate it with ease.