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Virginia’s new Universal Background Check law requires that any Virginia resident who wishes to sell/trade/exchange a firearm with another person, that a background and criminal history check must be performed on the buyer before he or she can obtain the weapon. These transactions are commonly referred to as “private party” or “person to person” local gun sales.
This background check is required anytime there is a transaction made where something is being traded in value for a firearm. In other words, if a gun is being sold for money OR even traded for something else of value, then a background check must be conducted on the buyer/recipient of the gun.
Thankfully, there are some exemptions to the Universal Background Check law. For example, gifting a firearm to someone. It is completely legal for an individual Virginia resident who owns an existing firearm to give it to another individual who is a Virginia resident as a gift. Such as a husband to his wife, a parent to their child, friend to friend, etc. In these cases, no FFL Dealer like K3 Armory need be involved in the transfer and no background check is required.
In Virginia, there is no legal requirement for any paperwork or a background check in order for an individual to GIFT a handgun or rifle to another individual - as long as they meet the legal requirements to pocess the firearm.
The key point is the term "gifting" - so no exchange of money, services or trade of any kind can be involved. Otherwise it would be considered a "sale" and very different rules apply.
It's very important to note that according to Virginia law, it is still the legal responsibility of the giver to ensure that the reciepant they are gifting the firearm to is legally able to possess it. As the giver, you should familiarize yourself with the basic Federal laws regarding the purchase/possession of firearm. Your City/Locality may have additional rules and regulations. You should also confirm that the item you are gifting can be legally possessed in the area of residence of the recipient.
Refer to the ATF's list of Prohibited Persons to confirm that your recipient is eligible to possess a firearm. You should also review the Virginia State Police Firearms Purchase Eligibility Test to find out if they are legally allowed to possess a gun in Virginia.
Failure to ensure that your recipient is legally able to receive your firearm, could result in significant consequences such as civil/criminal liability as well as criminal charges. For this reason, many individuals still choose to facilitate their gift exchange through an FFL Dealer like K3 Armory. This ensures that all laws are followed and eliminates the risk of any liability to the giver. Refer to our "Buying and Selling a Firearm to a Private Party Individual in Virginia" article for more details on this process.
Additionally, we would highly recommend that a simple "Bill of Sale" be drafted and signed by both parties. While not legally required, this document would provide an important paper trail should law enforcement ever need to locate the firearm for some reason.
Dozens of firearm Bill of Sale templates can be easily found for free online. Download and print two copies. Fill them out with relevant transaction details such as names and addresses of both parties, date, firearm info (maker, model, type, serial number) and purchase price of $0. Both the giver and recipient should sign one of the copies and keep it indefinitely.
Guns are great gift ideas - and many individuals purchase a firearm during the Holiday seasons with plans to gift it to a family member such as a spouse, son/daughter or grandchild. We can't think of a better surprise present for a loved one!
So what if an individual wishes to purchase a firearm (new or used) with plans to immediately gift it another person? Good news here too! Buying a gun and giving it to another individual (famliy member or not) is also completely legal. However, there are a few additional steps involved.
First, the individual purchasing the firearm - either from an FFL Dealer like K3 Armory or from another private party individual, will need to complete the standard paperwork and criminal history background check process that is required for the purchase of any new or used firearm in Virginia.
Once that paperwork is completed and a background check has been passed, the firearm is legally owned by that buyer and they can take possession of it. You can read many more details on this process in our How to Legally Buy A Gun Online article.
After this point, the same rules apply - refer to the "But what about giving a firearm to someone?" above. In short, the new owner is free to gift the firearm to any other individual that they wish - with no additional paperwork, background check or legal requirements. But again, the giver is responsible to ensure that the recipient can legally possess the firearm and a Bill of Sale is highly recommended.
Remember that "straw purchases" are highly illegal! A straw purchase is an illegal firearm purchase where an individual acts as a proxy buyer in order to purchase a firearm for another individual that may be unable to pass the required federal background check and/or wishes to not have his or her name associated with the transaction. Participating in a straw purchase is a Federal crime punishable by a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison. Learn more about straw purchases.
K3 Armory reserves the right to decline selling any firearm and/or deny any persons an FFL Transfer should we suspect criminal activity, fraud or a potential straw purchase. We will NEVER hesitate to report suspected criminal activity to the proper law enforcement agencies.
Q: Can I gift a firearm to another person?
A: YES. As long as the recipient of the gift is a VA resident, can legally possess that firearm, it's legal here, etc. The burden (and one would assume potential legal liability) is on the gift giver to confirm this.
Q: Does the recipient of the gift have to be an immediate family member?
A: NO. You can gift a firearm to ANYONE - regardless of their relationship to you. Again, as long as they meet the requirements (see above).
Q: Is a background check required on the recipient in order to gift them a firearm?
A: NO. Gifting a firearm is the exemption to the new VA Universal Background Check law that went into effect July 1, 2020 that requires a background check for all Private Party sales. As long as it is GIFTED (aka there is no exchange of money/goods/services/etc).
Q: Is going through an FFL Dealer required to gift someone a firearm?
A: NO. Gifting a firearm is the exemption to the new VA Universal Background Check law that went into effect July 1, 2020 that requires all Private Party sales to go through an FFL Dealer. As long as it is GIFTED.
Q: Is there any paperwork required to gift someone a firearm?
A: NO. But a bill of sale is highly recommended (include info of both parties, firearm info and a "price" of $0 since it's a gift). Free templates are readily available online.
Q: Does the recipient have to be 21 years old to be gifted a handgun?
A: NO. Currently, there is no law in VA that addresses 18-20 year olds in reference to being gifted a firearm of any type. As long as they are 18 (and meet the requirements - see above) they can be gifted a rifle OR HANDGUN.
K3 Armory is NOT a law firm and this is NOT legal advice. As laws are constantly changing - so may the accuracy of this information. Contact the VSP Firearms Transaction Center at (804) 674-2292 or online at https://vsp.virginia.gov/services/firearms/faq/ for the most up-to-date information or with additional questions.