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Who pays for background checks?

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(Interesting diary by Alice Mountjoy, Founding Member of Virginia Center for Public Safety.  This is one of the advantages of a community blog; I encourage other NGO’s to post their reports on Blue Virginia. Thanks. – promoted by lowkell)

Who pays for background checks? We all pay, but some gun rights enthusiasts have complained that background checks take too long and cost too much.

I reviewed the Virginia State Police website to see who is required to have background checks and who pays for this process. There are requirements in the Virginia Code for people who care for children and adults in day care centers and foster care facilities to undergo a background check.

Pharmacy employees also are required to submit to background checks to ensure the trust that society places on these people who deal with precious human lives and with dangerous products. All of these checks require a $15.00 processing fee and require a 12-14 day wait for the background check to be performed.  The person who needs the check pays the fee unless an employer elects to pay it.

The background check for gun purchasers has been $2 for Virginia residents since it was adopted 20 years ago. Federally licensed firearm dealers are required to collect the fee from the buyer although some dealers will absorb the cost in the price of the firearm. Federally licensed firearm dealers must insure that the buyer is not a convicted felon, terrorist, illegal alien, domestic abuser, and habitual drunk or otherwise ineligible to purchase through this instant computerized check (IBC) by the Virginia State Police. This safety net is designed to promote the public welfare. Unlike the background check for employment or work with children, the firearms background check is completed in 3-5 minutes.

In 2009, at the request of the Virginia State Police (VSP), Virginia Senator John Watkins (R) Richmond introduced a bill to increase the $2 IBC fee to $5 for Virginia residents to buy firearms. The gun lobby worked to defeat this increase in the processing fee. The VSP warned that the increase was necessary to keep staff in place to conduct the background checks. Now the gun lobby wants the additional cost to be paid with General Funds to keep the staff to process the background checks and avoid a wait.  

Considering the cutbacks to education, public safety, transportation, and all government agencies, it is only fitting that the gun lobby and  hobbyists must wait to clear the background checks a bit longer….any effort to circumvent a thorough background check would be reckless. After all, persons who want background checks for employment and work with children must be prepared to wait up to 2 weeks and they pay 7.5 times more for the wait!

It is insulting that anyone who advocates for common sense measures to ensure public safety regarding guns is labeled “liberal” or “gun grabber”.  It is more conservative to seek to ensure the public safety of all our citizens than to assume that anyone who wants to buy a gun should need instant gratification and have first dibs at the public trough.

Alice Mountjoy, Founding Member of

Virginia Center for Public Safety

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