Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks, penalty. (HB2)

Introduced By

Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston) with support from co-patron Del. Vivian Watts (D-Annandale)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks; penalty. Requires a background check for any firearm transfer and directs the Department of State Police (the Department) to establish a process for transferors to obtain such a check from licensed firearms dealers. A transferor who sells a firearm to another person without obtaining the required background check is guilty of a Class 6 felony. The bill also provides that a transferee who receives a firearm from another person without obtaining the required background check is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill exempts transfers (i) between immediate family members; (ii) that occur by operation of law; (iii) by the executor or administrator of an estate or by the trustee of a testamentary trust; (iv) at firearms shows in accordance with law; (v) that are part of a buy-back or give-back program; (vi) of antique firearms; (vii) that occur at a shooting range, shooting gallery, or any other area designed for the purpose of target shooting, for use during target practice, a firearms safety or training course or class, a shooting competition, or any similar lawful activity; or (viii) that are temporary transfers that (a) occur within the continuous presence of the owner of the firearm or (b) are necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. The bill removes the provision that makes background checks of prospective purchasers or transferees at firearms shows voluntary. The bill also provides that the Department shall have three business days to complete a criminal history record information check before a firearm may be transferred. The bill establishes an appropriation for the fiscal impact of the bill and authorizes the Director of the Department of Planning and Budget to allocate such appropriation among the agencies and programs impacted by the bill. This bill incorporates HB 355. Read the Bill »


01/31/2020: In Committee


11/18/2019Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/20 20101194D
11/18/2019Referred to Committee on Public Safety
11/21/2019Impact statement from VCSC (HB2)
01/17/2020Impact statement from DPB (HB2)
01/24/2020Reported from Public Safety with substitute (13-Y 9-N) (see vote tally)
01/24/2020Committee substitute printed 20106617D-H1
01/24/2020Incorporates HB355 (Kory)
01/27/2020Impact statement from VCSC (HB2H1)
01/28/2020Read first time
01/29/2020Impact statement from DPB (HB2H1)
01/29/2020Floor substitute printed 20106943D-H2 (Fariss)
01/29/2020Incorporates HB355 (Kory)
01/29/2020Read second time
01/29/2020Passed by temporarily
01/29/2020Committee substitute agreed to 20106617D-H1
01/29/2020Committee substitute reconsidered
01/29/2020Substitute by Delegate Fariss out of order 20106943D-H2
01/29/2020Pending question ordered
01/29/2020Engrossed by House - committee substitute HB2H1
01/30/2020Impact statement from VCSC (HB2H2)
01/30/2020Read third time and passed House (54-Y 46-N)
01/30/2020VOTE: Passage (54-Y 46-N) (see vote tally)
01/31/2020Constitutional reading dispensed
01/31/2020Referred to Committee on the Judiciary
02/05/2020Impact statement from DPB (HB2H2)

Hearing Scheduled

This bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judiciary committee on 02/24/2020. It meets on Monday, 8:00 A.M. and Wednesday, 1/2 hour after adjournment - Senate Room B.


JoAnne Norton writes:

This bill is long overdue. However, a comment on another bill introduced states that AR whatever rifles are still used in competition. If they are used in competition, they are around in our environment and in houses.

patrick shipley writes:

this puts us on the road to confiscation. A horrible bill

Phil Steinschneider writes:

The RAND Corporation did a study on background checks, analyzing other studies. It found that background checks had an inconclusive effect — they might decrease suicide and violent crime.

This begs the question: If current background checks show no measurable effects, how are universal background checks expected to make any difference?

Commonsense would seem to dictate that background checks would have a major effect, but they do not. This means the idea of performing background checks in the first place is a panacea. It makes people feel that they’re doing something while also causing the following problems:

1. Presumption of innocence. A background check requires people to prove they’re innocent before they take ownership of a firearm. Doesn’t this violate a basic American premise — the presumption of innocence?

2. Malum prohibitum. Background checks are part of a trend in which laws are created to prevent things from happening by making something illegal by statute instead of punishing actual behavior. Eventually, everything will be prohibited by statute because every action can be potentially malicious.

3. Nationalization of gun ownership. If universal background checks are implemented at the federal level, this puts the government into everyone’s home. When one wants to dispose of private property -- one's firearm -- one can longer do so without asking permission from the government. This makes every gun the property of the state and is questionable constitutionally. It also brings into question the constitutionality of universal background checks at the state level.

4. Unenforceability without universal registration. In order to trace a firearm from its manufacture all the way to its latest destination, every transfer would need to be documented along the way (universal registration). That would be the only manner in which to verify whether or not someone had transferred the firearm to someone in a private transaction without a background check. Today, once a firearm leaves a licensed dealer and goes to a private citizen after a NICS (National Instant Check System), the trail goes cold.

5. Uselessness. Nearly every mass shooting and nearly every crime in the US was committed with a firearm purchased after a background check, with a gun acquired via a straw buyer, on the black market, or stolen.

Background checks are already a solution in search of a problem. Universal background checks are a problem in search of a problem that would lead to even bigger problems and restrictions of our rights.

Mike writes:

This bill is simply a Trojan horse for registration, which is an essential tool for confiscation backed under unconstitutional bills like SB16.

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