Virginia: There’s Something New at Gun Shows Now

Photo courtesy of WBDJ7-TV

For nearly 50 years, the VFW Post 1115 has been hosting its annual Labor Day Gun Show and Flea Market in the small town of Hillsville, Virginia.

Last year’s event drew around 700,000 attendees and this year they expect more. It is the largest gun show/flea market on the east coast.

This year will be different for folks who wish to engage in a private sale or transfer without using a firearm dealer due to a new Virginia law that went into effect July 1, 2016.

We turned to U.S. Law Shield of Virginia Independent Program Attorneys Riley & Wells for an explanation of the law.

Here is what they had to say:

Va. Code § 54.1-4201.2 requires the promoter of the firearm show to prominently display a notice that notifies all eventgoers that the Virginia State Police (“VSP”) is available on-site to perform voluntary background checks in private sale transactions.

Upon request, the VSP will provide a background check in private transactions at Firearms Shows in Virginia for the sale or transfer of handguns or long guns at the event. For a voluntary check in a private transaction, both the purchaser and the seller must be a resident of Virginia. The prospective purchaser must provide written consent permitting the VSP to perform the records check by completing a Virginia Firearms Transaction Consent Form. It is unlawful for any person to willfully and intentionally make a false statement on the consent form. A fee of $2.00 will be collected in advance by the VSP to assist in the cost of conducting the check.

The average time for a background check is less than five minutes for approved transactions. If the transaction cannot be approved within minutes, due to issues such as lawful eligibility of the prospective firearms purchaser to possess a firearm, then an estimation of the processing time will be provided.

No person who sells or transfers a firearm at a firearms show shall be liable for selling or transferring a firearm after receiving a determination from the VSP that the purchaser or transferee is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm.

In the past, private sellers wanting a background check conducted on a potential purchaser would have to go to a licensed firearm dealer and ask them to conduct the check for them. But under state law, a firearm dealer could only conduct a background check involving firearms in its own inventory, according to a spokesperson for the state police.

So private sellers would place their firearm on consignment with the firearm dealer and that would allow the firearm dealer to legally conduct the check, usually for a fee of $25-$35; however, some firearm dealers were conducting background checks for private sellers anyway.

This new law will streamline the process and allow the private sellers to go directly to the VSP, negating the necessity of having to go through a licensed firearm dealer to have a background check performed.

VSP Spokesperson Corinne Geller explained, “This is just a means of added insurance and peace of mind for a person who wants to sell a firearm or transfer a firearm to know that yes, in fact, this person who just may be a total stranger to you is eligible to purchase that firearm.”

As a seller, would you avail yourself of this service offered by the Virginia State Police?

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