In February, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and lawmakers came up with a plan, a compromise, if you will, to make Virginia “safer.” McAuliffe worked a deal with state lawmakers that would override a plan previously sought by Attorney General Mark Herring. The arrangement would include no longer recognizing concealed carry permits from 25 states. The reason for this was concerns that the other states may not meet the same guidelines as Virginia.
The trade-off was the Virginia State Police would have troopers available at gun shows to provide voluntary background checks for private gun sales. Gun owners with certain protective orders would have to surrender their firearms within 24 hours of being served. They would also be prohibited from possessing firearms for the length of the order.
The compromise has not proven to be very fruitful. In fact, in the past four months, only 21 voluntary background checks have been performed. McAuliffe said, in a statement when he signed the legislation, “The historic bipartisan agreement will make Virginia safer by keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and people who cannot pass background checks.”
The 21 voluntarily requested background checks all came back clean. Mandatory checks that are conducted by licensed firearms dealers at the shows totaled 12,000 in that same time frame and there were 110 denials. This challenges the claim that that private gun sales make up as much as 40 percent of firearm transfers in states where universal background checks are not mandatory.
Andrew Goddard, legislative director for the Virginia Center for Public Safety, a gun control organization that supports checks on all sales — not just at gun shows said, “It will only be when these checks are mandatory, or take place on a large scale, that we are likely to see denials. Voluntary compliance is not the way to effectively stop sales between private seller and ineligible buyers.”
McAuliffe has supported mandatory gun show checks on private transfers but Republican-controlled committees have shot that down. Gun rights advocate Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, feels the troopers are wasting public funds. He says, “The minuscule number of voluntary background checks since July indicates to me that the General Assembly needs to take this law off the books and use the money to go after violent criminals on our streets instead.”