May I still gift a firearm under Virginia’s new universal background check law?

With the holiday season upon us, I am getting quite a few emails and phone calls asking whether Virginia’s new universal background check law prevents the gifting of firearms.

I want to start by noting that it is federal law which governs the gifting of firearms to recipients across state lines and this article is solely focused on Virginia residents gifting other Virginia residents.

Having said that, the law in question, which was passed during the 2020 General Session, is codified at § 18.2-308.2:5 of the Code of Virginia and provides in part that:

A. 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.

Note the portions that I have bolded.  The key takeaway is that the new law only applies to the sale or trade of firearms for something of value.  And while our loved-ones, and their happiness are priceless to us, gifts and inheritance are not governed by the new law.

In short, you may feel free to gift firearms during the holiday season or at any other time of year without the involvement of a licensed dealer so long as the gift-giver and the recipient are both residents of Virginia and the recipient is not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law.

Disclaimer:  This information is presented for educational purposes only and does not give rise to an attorney-client relationship. Additionally, I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and this answer may not be appropriate for other states. If you have further questions about this topic, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation.

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