PURCELLVILLE, Va. — On July 1, Virginians woke up to new gun control laws, many of which reflect the Democratic majority in the General Assembly.
The newly enacted laws include background check requirements, mandated reporting of lost and stolen firearms, an Extreme Risk Protective Order, and reinstatement of Virginian’s one-handgun-a-month policy.
“It's just more paperwork for us to take care of,” Purcell Store Inc. owner Dale Thompson said. “There's certain people that try to collect different types of firearms, and they're not going to be able to buy as many without getting a carry permit because some people do buy more than one at a time.”
Thompson said he doesn't think the new bills will stop criminals from getting guns, but will ultimately add more work on his end. In his Purcellville store, he has decades worth of paperwork that he continues to have to store on all of his gun sales.
As of this spring, Thompson said he’s had a spike in paperwork with a 400 to 500 percent increase in gun sales since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Some gun store owners said they started seeing a spike when the gun bill debate began in the General Assembly.
Gun data from the Virginia State Police confirms a spike in background checks.
January 2019 to January 2020 saw an 86% increase in Virginia background checks, according to the VSP.
For the months of February, March and April for this year, numbers nearly doubled from the year prior.
2019 Background Checks Conducted:
January 2019: 35,764
February 2019: 39,300
March 2019: 45,826
April 2019: 32,663
May 2019: 28,425
2020 Background Checks Conducted:
January 2020: 65,839
February 2020: 64,076
March 2020: 80,228
April 2020: 62,620
May 2020: 56,526
VSP said dealers are only required to request one check per person, so the numbers could be higher.
When it comes to required background checks, Thompson agreed that that should be something people have to pass before getting a firearm.
“Everybody should be able to purchase the gun and be able to pass a background check," Thompson said. "I don't want felons to get guns either."
As of July 1, gun safes with a selling price of $1,500 or less per item are exempt from the retail sales and use tax.
Here’s a list of bills signed by the governor in April:
- Senate Bill 70 and House Bill 2 require background checks on all firearm sales in Virginia, which will prevent guns from ending up in dangerous hands.
- Senate Bill 240 and House Bill 674 establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order, which creates a legal mechanism for law enforcement to temporarily separate a person from their firearms when they represent a danger to themselves or others. Virginia is now among 19 other states and the District of Columbia in enacting this type of law.
- Senate Bill 69 and House Bill 812 reinstate Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month rule to help curtail stockpiling of firearms and trafficking.
- House Bill 9 requires gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within 48 hours or face a civil penalty.
- House Bill 1083 prevents children from accessing firearms by increasing the penalty for recklessly leaving firearms in their presence.