In 2016, Virginia enacted a law requiring the State Police to be available at gun shows to conduct background checks on purchasers or transferees of firearms at the request of the parties to the transaction. The law provides immunity from liability to any person who sells or transfers a firearm to a person after receiving a determination from the State Police that the person is not prohibited from possessing a firearm. The promoter of a gun show must provide adequate space for the State Police to make these determinations, and must ensure that a notice that these determinations are available is prominently displayed at the show.1 Virginia law still does not require unlicensed sellers and transferors to seek this background check before the sale or transfer of a gun at a gun show.
Virginia law requires any person, firm, corporation, club, association, or organization holding a firearms show to give notice at least 30 days prior to the show to the State Police and the sheriff or chief of police of the locality in which the firearms show will be held.2 The notice must be given on a form provided by the State Police. A separate notice is required for each firearms show.3
The promoter must also maintain for the duration of the show a list of all vendors or exhibitors in the show for immediate inspection by any law-enforcement authorities.4 Within five days after the conclusion of the show, the promoter must transmit a copy of the complete vendor or exhibitor list to the law-enforcement authorities to which the 30-day prior notice was required. The vendor or exhibitor list must contain the full name and residence address and the business name and address, if any, of the vendors or exhibitors.5
Virginia law exempts from these requirements any firearms shows held in any town with a population of not less than 1,995 and not more than 2,010, according to the 1990 United States census.6
See the Virginia Private Sales section for additional state laws that may apply at gun shows.
See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.