Home 2020 Elections AG Mark Herring Advisory Opinion: “current Virginia law does not permit a...

AG Mark Herring Advisory Opinion: “current Virginia law does not permit a political party or a candidate’s campaign committee to conduct a raffle”

Also: "a background check must be conducted for 'any raffle where the prize to be awarded includes a firearm'"

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See below for an opinion from AG Mark Herring’s office, regarding VA05 Republican nominee Bob Good’s “Gun Raffle Drawing” on 9/26.

Attorney General Herring has issued an advisory opinion today concluding that “current Virginia law does not permit a political party or a candidate’s campaign committee to conduct a raffle” and that a background check must be conducted for “any raffle where the prize to be awarded includes a firearm.”
The opinion comes in response to a request from Senator Scott Surovell who asked “whether a political party or a candidate’s campaign committee may conduct a raffle, and whether the [background check] requirements in Virginia Code § 18.2-308.2:5 apply if awarding a firearm as a prize in a raffle.”
In the advisory opinion, Attorney General Herring details gambling exceptions in Virginia Code for “charitable gaming”, which says “nonprofit organizations may ‘raise[] funds by conducting raffles,’ but the expenditure of the derived proceeds is limited to the ‘lawful religious, charitable, community or educational purposes’ for which the organization ‘is specifically charted or organized.’” Attorney General Herring goes on to say that “A political party is not an entity specifically chartered or organized for religious, charitable, community, or educational purposes. Likewise, a campaign for a candidate seeking elected office does not qualify.”
Additionally, Attorney General Herring explains that Virginia’s expanded background checks apply to firearms that are being raffled saying, “the laws that require Virginia citizens to obtain a background check before purchasing a firearm apply with equal force to those who win a firearm in a raffle.”
Other key passages from the opinion:
Section 18.2-308.2:5 of the Code of Virginia provides that “[n]o person shall sell a firearm for money, goods, services, or anything else of value” unless they have “obtained verification” that “a criminal history record information check” has been conducted and “the prospective purchaser is not prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm.” These requirements apply where a firearm is awarded as a prize in a raffle. [Page 2]
Because purchasing chances is an exchange “of value” for the purposes of Code § 18.2-308.2:5, the criminal history check and verification requirements must be satisfied for any firearms to be awarded through raffles. [Page 2]