Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘Background Check Procedures in Virginia.’ Background Checks. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 17 September
Background Checks in Virginia
Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state "point of contact" and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System ("NICS") database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
In Virginia, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the Department of State Police ("DSP") which enforces the federal purchaser prohibitions referenced above.
Before transferring a firearm from his or her inventory, a licensed dealer must:
- Require a prospective purchaser to present one piece of government issued photo-identification, and a separate documentation of residence;
- Obtain the purchaser's written consent to a background check and the other information on a consent form;
- Request criminal history record information regarding the purchaser by a telephone call to or other communication authorized by DSP; and
- Provide DSP with the name, birth date, gender, race, citizenship, and social security and/or any other identification number of the purchaser, and the number of firearms by category intended to be transferred.
The DSP must generally process each dealer's background check request "during the dealer's call [to the DSP], or by return call without delay." Virginia law provides that most background checks must be processed by the end of the following business day, or the dealer is free to complete the transfer. A Virginia administrative regulation requires a dealer who processes a transfer because he or she has not received a response from the DSP by the end of the dealer's next business day, to notify DSP of the transfer by telephone.
Virginia does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm…
[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]