FREDRICKSBURG.COM – FEBRUARY 3, 2021 – Virginia’s spate of new 2020 gun-control laws resulted in the predictable rash of consternation and confusion as law-abiding citizens attempt to meet legal requirements and avoid criminal charges. The laws added citizen burdens and, apparently, financial opportunities for licensed dealers.
People heard for years about the criticality of “closing the gun show loophole,” mainly relating to a desire for private sales at shows to require the same background checks mandated for people buying guns from people or businesses with a federal firearms license (FFL).
Democrats in control of all branches of Virginia’s legislature and administration didn’t stop there, though. Every private transaction, except for transfers to immediate family members, now must have a background check. The new gun laws were steamrolled through last year, were signed by Gov. Ralph Northam and went into effect last July.
The Virginia Code statute covering background checks is 18.2-308.2:5, titled, “Criminal history record information check required to sell firearm; penalty.” It reads, in part, “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.”
All firearms background checks are managed through a Virginia State Police system. The state police get a $2 service charge fee for each check. Most licensed dealers have traditionally charged transfer fees to customers, especially those who bought a gun from a retailer elsewhere and the dealer is handling the transaction.
The General Assembly realized that setting up this requirement for nearly every private transaction would likely generate thousands of new background checks each year. These mandatory background checks might be compared to state-required mandatory motor vehicle inspections. Fees for those inspections are capped by law at a reasonable rate.
Similarly, the new background check statute states: “The dealer may charge and retain an additional fee not to exceed $15 for obtaining a criminal history record information check on behalf of a seller.” Clear enough, right? A person is charged $17 to follow the law and not face a Class 1 misdemeanor charge punishable by fine or prison.
Here is where it gets interesting.
A reasonable person might assume that licensed dealers accept the fact that facilitating these new private transaction checks is part of doing business. That capped $15 fee comes with the package. [source full article]