Virginia Gun Rental Background Check Bill Poses Insurmountable Hurdles

By Larry Keane

Why Second Amendment Sanctuaries Are Important In Virginia & the U.S., Allexxandar-iStock-884220580
There’s a bill brewing in Virginia that’s got great intentions but will wreak havoc for gun ranges. iStock-884220580

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- There’s a bill brewing in Virginia that’s got great intentions but will wreak havoc for gun ranges and the state-run background check system.

Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds introduced SB 1250, legislation to require background checks for gun rentals. It’s a first-of-its-kind bill that was introduced following tragic incidents of suicides at just two Virginia gun ranges. The parents of the deceased implored Sen. Deeds to introduce the bill.

Sen. Deeds is familiar with the tragic and shocking loss of a family member from suicide by firearm. His adult son was suffering a mental health crisis. Sen. Deeds’ son attacked him with a knife, critically injuring him before using a firearm to take his own life.

Now, Sen. Deeds is ushering through a bill that’s already been approved by Virginia’s Senate Judiciary Committee and under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee. The legislation would require the same background check that’s required for a firearm sale to be conducted for each time an individual walks into a gun range and rents a firearm.

Problematic Fixes

This presents a host of problems. Virginia is a Point-of-Contact state, meaning the Virginia State Police run the background checks for all firearm transfers. Just last year, the state enacted universal background checks. All permanent firearm transfers – both from a retailer and from private person-to-person transfers, must be completed with a background check. Sen. Deeds’ bill would treat renting a firearm – the temporary possession of the gun – the same way a permanent transfer works. This would be required despite the fact the firearm never actually leaves the premises of the gun range and the person renting the firearm never actually takes permanent possession of the gun.

Most gun ranges already take voluntary measures to reduce the risk of suicide at gun ranges. While tragic, it is exceptionally rare, according to a Harvard University study. Still, there are methods that gun ranges put into place on their own.

Gun ranges sometimes require those renting a firearm to do so with someone else. Ensuring individuals renting a gun are partnered with someone else reduces the possibility of suicide when another person is alongside them. Other ranges have adopted more stringent voluntary measures, such as requiring a concealed carry permit or other proof of firearm safety training to rent a gun.

Still, that’s not enough to satisfy Sen. Deeds’ bill. His legislation would mean every single person renting a firearm would have to fill out the required background check forms and be subjected to a state-run background check. That’s not just customers walking into a gun range to test out a new gun before making the decision to buy one. That’s every single person.

This legislation would mean all those firearm safety classes, introductory classes, and concealed carry classes which are now required to be performed in-person in Virginia would be saddled with running each student who rents a firearm to run their background checks. It would extend to those who take an afternoon to Bull Run Shooting Center, a Fairfax County-run public skeet, trap, wobble, and sporting clays course that hosts thousands of first-time recreational shooters as well as club tournaments. It raises questions for ranges that host fundraisers and offer firearms for use at each station and whether that would constitute a rental when a donor pays a monetary donation to shoot a course of fire.

NSSF is laser-focused on reducing suicide by firearm. The tragic instances of the two young men who took their lives and spurred this legislation is worth examining.

One young man was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps and was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. That instance, by itself, makes an individual a prohibited person. This young man lied on the waiver he signed at the range falsely attesting to his mental health history. The other young man was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic.

Real Solutions

None of this makes the tragedy of suicide easier or acceptable. That’s why NSSF partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention group. Together, we’ve produced a toolkit to provide resources to ranges and retailers to have a “brave conversation” and intervene before a crisis. That partnership has been recognized as a real solution to a painful problem. The Department of Veterans Affairs has since come into agreement with NSSF and AFSP to provide these resources to veterans to prevent the tragedy of suicide.

That’s just one step NSSF has taken. Since 2013, NSSF’s FixNICS campaign has changed the laws in 16 states and in Congress to get the states and federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, to submit all disqualifying adjudicated mental health records submitted to the FBI’s National Instance Criminal Background Check System (NICS). That submission rate improved by 262 percent, from just 1.7 million records seven years ago to more than 6 million today.

NSSF wants to reduce the instances of suicide by firearm. While well-intentioned, this legislation injects problems that lawmakers aren’t considering. First, a rental doesn’t match the federal definition of a transfer, meaning the Virginia State Police won’t have access to all the same indexes accessible by the FBI. This would produce an incomplete background check since the state is relying on its own databases. It also raises questions of someone from out-of-state who attempts to rent a firearm. Federal law prohibits handgun purchases across state lines, but nothing bars rentals.

There are questions as to the access Virginia State Police would have to criminal and mental health background records for someone from any other state. This also threatens to swamp the state’s background check system. Virginia conducted over 780,000 background checks last year, with an estimated 42 percent of those going into a “delayed” status. The fiscal impact statement accompanying the legislation noted Virginia State Police estimated this would add at least 200 background checks per day, or over 73,000 background checks annually. When delays build, this turns into a de facto ban on firearm rentals.

Suicide by firearms with rented guns is tragic, yet exceedingly rare. This legislation has the greatest of intentions but injects serious questions that lawmakers must consider. A smarter approach, a proven-effective approach, would be for lawmakers to put their efforts in supporting the voluntary intervention methods already in place by gun ranges and provide the mental health resources to those in most need.


About The National Shooting Sports Foundation

NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org

National Shooting Sports Foundation

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Tionico
Tionico (@tionico)
10 months ago

One work-around might be for the ranges to demand their “range owned guns” can ONLY be used with ammunitoin they sell. Raise the cost of the ammo to cover the revenue now lost by NOT renting the gun. Same revenue, labelled differently. Now, they are not “renting” the gun for a feee, thus triggering the BGC. Elsewise, flood the state-run BGC system with thousands of rental requests, shutting it down. Next thing ya know, anyone even THINKING about guns will have to file for a permit to do so, and get a BGC. “For a small fee”, of course. Nannies… Read more »

Tionico
Tionico (@tionico)
10 months ago

Let’s see here.. I can go to Home Depot and rent a nail gun, jackhammer, trackhoe, pickup truck, large hammer drills, chian saw, ALL of which can be lethal if one is either careless, ignorant, unskilled, or suicidal/homicidal. Will they now demand background checks for anyone renting these types of items?

james
james (@james27613)
10 months ago
Reply to  Tionico

Customer in one of our stores used a battery powered saws to cut both of his arms and would have bleed out if not for the off duty paramedic who took steps to stop the bleeding.
Another racical terrorist rented a HD Ford 250 and used it to murder folks on bicycle paths in NY City.

No law(s) past, present or future can stop a person who wants to kill you or themselves.

StLPro2A
StLPro2A (@stlpro2a)
10 months ago
Reply to  james

A politician with a law never stops a bad guy with a gun….or a F250, or a fertilizer bomb, et el.
He merely controls the good guys….saving his own ass, which is his true agenda.

StLPro2A
StLPro2A (@stlpro2a)
10 months ago
Reply to  Tionico

No…….those items cannot be used to save America per the Second Amendment. That’s all the Libtards have against guns……and losing voters to suicide. But, the few suicidal voters lost are overwhelmingly replaced with illegal immigrants, so no biggy.

pureamericana
pureamericana (@bluidevil)
10 months ago

Virginia has a problem that is not going away. The northern federal zone that lives off DC money & corruption yet rules over a state, is not popular in most areas an hour or so in all directions away from that zone. Perhaps Virginia must be divided so as to see fairness,freedoms and decency survive.

willyd
willyd (@willyd)
10 months ago
Reply to  pureamericana

Just remember the Demo-Rats are in charge in Va. so anything you think won’t pass stands a better than average to be passed!!!!!!!!!!

Get Out
Get Out (@get-out)
10 months ago

IMOA, it’s another gun control scheme to burden the owners of the range to get BGC on someone that wants to rent a firearm. Currently NICS takes up to 3 days to approve or disapprove a NICS request to purchase a firearm. I doubt the BGC can be done in 10 minutes and frustration will cause people not to shoot due to the delay. Also the NICS depends on proper reporting of prohibited persons to the system. It’s another gun control ruse to get their foot in the door and before you know it, they’ll be wanting BGC on everyone… Read more »

Finnky
Finnky (@finnks)
10 months ago
Reply to  Get Out

NICS is specifically provided for gun purchases and CCW checks. They cannot and will not provide NICS checks for frivolous stuff like this – just as they refused to do NICS checks in support of CA ammo purchases. Just as CA had to implement a separate background check system at great cost – VA would have to build their own system for this. While there is a small mental health component to NICS – it is pretty much useless for predicting suicide. Requiring ranges to utilize such a system could create a false sense of security (as well as possibly… Read more »

Steel Pot Army
Steel Pot Army (@steel-pot-army)
10 months ago

Not to sound flip, especially when suicide is involved but how about not renting at all? Is there a law or legislation preventing a gun owner from letting a “friend” shoot their firearm? The rent charge could be made up under “other costs” associated with business operations.. like under range time charges or oxygen consumption while on premises? If you want to defeat assholes, sometimes you have to think like one…

Big Lou
Big Lou (@big-lou)
10 months ago
Reply to  Steel Pot Army

How about not fixing something that is not broken. If this company wants to rent their property, they can do so. Just because someone doesn’t like what you do, doesn’t give them the right to dictate how you do what you do. Unless nics and the police will be giving 30 second background checks, as to not hold up the lines,, this will never work. And we all know that will never happen.

Finnky
Finnky (@finnks)
10 months ago
Reply to  Big Lou

@Big Lou – What I think SteelPotArmy meant – is that IF this is made law, ranges and gun owners will find a way around it. As we’ve been forced to do with so many other ill conceived and poorly implemented regulations.

As long as anti-gun stupidity is being forced on us – we will keep fighting it head on, and keep going around it while it is in force.

Arny
Arny (@dmaxter)
10 months ago

If a person has determined to take their life. Nothing is stopping them. I have friends & family that have taken their life. One by hanging even though she had access to a firearm. How does that fit into their legislation ? Maybe try a bill that restricts the taking of hard earned money (taxes). Because from the suicides I’m acquainted with, it come down to finances. The lack of & no HOPE on the horizon. Not every case is the same. But if they’re willing to submit this bill. Let’s submit one for every cause of suicide. Another FEEL… Read more »

RedBloodedAmerican
RedBloodedAmerican (@redbloodedamerican)
10 months ago

Garbage legislation from a now defunct state!

GeniusJoe
GeniusJoe (@geniusjoe)
10 months ago

Ummmm what “Great Intentions”? The Intention here is not protecting people, its disarming them and every turn, even if it prevents training!!!

Last edited 10 months ago by GeniusJoe