Virginia Gun Laws Examined in Wake of Arizona Shooting

By: Todd Corillo Email
By: Todd Corillo Email

Saturday's mass shooting in Arizona has prompted a review of who is eligible to purchase a firearm in states across the country.

Dennis Golden, owner of Ashby Arms in Harrisonburg, says the process of approving someone to purchase a gun in Virginia is straightforward.

"You fill out state and federal paperwork and then we enter that into the Virginia State Police instant background check system. It takes anywhere from five minutes to up to two hours and sometimes it can take several days," explains Golden.

The automatic system is called the Virginia Firearms Transaction Program.

According to the program's Website, "On the average it takes two minutes to provide a firearms dealer with an approval/disapproval decision. The design of this program eliminates traditional waiting periods by electronically accessing criminal records and "wanted" databases at the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Virginia Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) and provides an instantaneous approval or disapproval decision to the firearms dealer concerning the firearms sale or transfer."

Golden says that there are numerous reasons why a person would receive a disapproval decision by the system.

"If you have something in your background, such as a felony or domestic violence or any case of mental instability, something like that that has been legally adjudicated, that would flag you and automatically get you denied," explains Golden.

Even if the system does give approval for an individual to purchase a gun, that doesn't automatically mean that a firearm will be sold.

"It is our discretion to whether we sell a firearm to an individual or not," says Golden. "If we have a bad feeling or if we just want to deny the sale, we absolutely can."

The Virginia Firearms Transaction Program has been in operation since 1989 and it was the first program of its kind in the country.


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