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By Larry Keane

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 has 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.

Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds
Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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 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.

form 4473

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.

That would extend to those who take an afternoon at 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 has 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 introduces 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 only on their 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 to supporting the voluntary intervention methods already in place by gun ranges and provide the mental health resources to those in most need.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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    • Hey, people kill themselves. Just have each rental put up a $50.00 reimbursable clean up fee with each rental. What good is a background check other than revenue to the point of contact. What information gleamed from a background check indicates potential suicide?
      Virginia is for shitheads.

      • “What information gleamed from a background check indicates potential suicide?”

        Ok, here’s the deal: “If I saves only one…”. Everyone knows that every person with mental health problems is documented on “No Fly/No Buy” lists. So….BGCs for gun rentals will turn up people who are prohibited persons for firearm purchases. If a person is prohibited from buying a gun, they have no need to rent a gun, or even have ammunition. Follow me?

        The regulation under review will stop literally thousands and thousands and thousands of crazy people from getting their hands on a gun, and shooting everyone in sight. BGC work. We’re talking about settled science here. You cannot question science, otherwise it wouldn’t be science.

        • I believe you’re following a logical fallacy…
          You’re assuming anyone with a mental disorder and access to a firearm will go on a murderous shooting spree. If that were entirely true, I don’t believe there would be anybody left to read these posts. Or any posts anywhere for that matter.
          Anecdotally, the range I frequent has always had rental firearms available and the rampage you described hasn’t occurred. Not even close. You might also note, that in this scenario, almost everyone within shooting distance is also armed.

          • “I believe you’re following a logical fallacy…”

            Nope. Creating one. Just a riff on ridiculousness.

          • “I believe Sam forgot the /sarc tag on his comment.”

            Not really. I often comment for the discerning reader.

          • “Didn’t read your screen name before I replied.”

            No problaymo. I often don’t read my screen name either.

  2. I hate these time-wasting half-measures. Everyone should be required to pass a background check, every day, before they are allowed to leave home, as a means to ensure they will not commit a crime somewhere.

      • “Which is exactly why they’re going to pass it.”

        Well, that may be true, but my big concern is how to be sure everyone passes the daily background check. Documents, decals, tattoos, and sewn-on badges are too unreliable. We need some sort of permanent form of identifying, or marking individuals using near indestructible techniques. There should be two indicators (redundancy is critical) that are not removable/alterable by the individual. And we need some sort of ginormous database, with backup. And some sort of central control over the data. Some sort of master agent/agency to make sure every one minds. It might also be good if someone wrote a book on how this could all come about, and the potential risks and benefits. A book would be really nice.

          • “You’re too late. Fauci an Gates already have the patent for that idea.”

            But did they also put a patent on the two mask medical procedure?

        • That’s genius. I know these two guys who write instruction manuals. Maybe I’ll give them a call. I think they might even have a small company. Orwell Huxley LLC.

          • “Orwell Huxley LLC.”

            Go slow. They are represented by the mafia favoried law firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe.

    • Yes. It’s the only way!
      And when one of these people who passed their check to leave the house commits a crime we’ll push for background checks upon returning home at the end of the day.

      Why not? To my knowledge nobody has asked any of these politicians how many background checks is enough. In one year between gun purchases and work I had 18 background checks done. Surely the people asking for numbers, I don’t know, 6-18 felt stupid doing so.

      Get Schumer, Pelosi, Biden, whoever to give a number. They’re so eager to slap a number on magazine sizes. Why not background checks?

      • “And when one of these people who passed their check to leave the house commits a crime we’ll push for background checks upon returning home at the end of the day.”

        Good catch !

        I shudda thought of that.

  3. Just think of the grief he could have saved society if he’s shot his father before committing hara-kiri. I guess he did it backwards.

    • In their grief, the parents have decided someone is at fault and they must pay. Their desire for vengeance, disguised as misplaced justice, is now affecting many innocent parties too.

  4. “There’s a (gun control) bill brewing in Virginia that’s got great intentions…(by) Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds…”

    Great intentions? Democrat? Larry have been asleep for IDK, the last 20 years?

  5. “The parents of the deceased implored Sen. Deeds to introduce the bill.”

    I can’t say whether the parents had any culpability for the deaths of their children. I hope not. Yet, their notion that the rest of society has to bear their burden is infuriating.

  6. Of those suicided people I will wager that 99% of them would have passed the ATF background check, just like any other gun buyer. So we just have yet another infringement for the general public. Laws dont stop determined individuals.

  7. “You can rent a weapon, get the ammo from the facility, walk out into a bay, start shooting and either turn (the gun) on yourself or turn it on others,” said Brad Carroll, Jon Jon’s father and a Marine himself. “There’s nothing stopping you from doing that. ”

    How do these laws change that?

    I’m asking what it was that made these people mentally unstable and why no one seemed to be keeping an eye on their situation? Where is NICS in this? Isn’t THIS exactly part of what NICS was created to prevent? When it comes to Sen. Deeds son, he had access to weapons….why?

  8. What’s the worry? “The State Police shall provide its response to the requesting dealer during the dealer’s request or by return call without delay.” The law says there shall not be any delay, so there won’t be any, right?

    DId you notice each transfer is subject to two background checks? “On the last day of the week following the sale or transfer of any firearm, the dealer shall mail or deliver the written consent form required by subsection A to the Department of State Police. The State Police shall immediately initiate a search…” This turns the additional 200 daily into 400 daily, and the 73,000 annually into 146,000 annually, unless that’s already baked into the State Police estimates.

  9. Good intentions? No.

    If you plan to punish *everyone* for the self-destructive acts of a couple of people, you don’t get to claim good intentions. Screw that noise. And screw everyone that’s making it.

    • A bit difficult with the suicidee’s brains all over the walls or ceiling. So you punish whoever else was nearby for failing to prevent it. According to Socialists, since our lives belong to the state, suicides are “willful destruction of state property”.

  10. Just another way for Leftist’s such as Deeds to infringe on Virginians 2 nd. amendment rights.

  11. New laws cheered on by the same Lefties who Praise Dr. Kavokian and other assisted suicide procedures.

    Make your mind up, are you OK with suicide or not?

  12. Not unintended. The goal is to drive up costs, drive down revenues, and discourage gun ownership and shooting. It’s all about increasing cost and friction at every stage, until people give up and sell their guns.

  13. Liberalism is a negative mental condition. No wonder the kid snuffed himself. The Senator should be charged with inciting suicide for the negative parental imprinting upon the son.

    • It’s not that Liberalism is a mental condition. It is the logical contradictions that cause eventual breakdown. Only a special mind can handle doublethink properly.

  14. 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.

    Sounds like Sen. Deeds is about as insane as his son was. These people who want to run for gov. office who has mental illness in the family should be required to pass an “government position sanity test” before allowing them to run for ANY gov. office. The test should be very long and stringent and the fee should be $5000.00 per applicant. The card issue fee should be $10,000.00 and only be issued for 6 months and $5000.00 fee come renewal time.
    Whatta say guys? Wanna sign the petition? Let’s pass that bill !

  15. So the article states that as someone from out of state there is no information available to authorities that I might be insane and would commit suicide with a rented gun. For most people who are depressed there is no indication on file that they could be suicidal. The first time someone slips through the cracks and the background check fails to tell the gun range that the customer might be suicidal there will be one heck of a lawsuit against the state.
    There really is so much wrong with this bill that you could write a book about it!

  16. Instead of trying to FixNICS the NSSF should be working to eliminate it! It’s bad enough that libs/Dems/socialist/communists have foisted it upon us. But to continue to polish this turd is ridiculous!
    This bill doesn’t have good intentions. It’s designed to make it harder to exercise 2A rights and is another step towards abolishing the 2A.

  17. So I walk in to a gun range to do some shooting — with my own pistol. On my way out I spot a gun in the showcase I’d like to try, so I ask to rent it. Now, even though I’m right there with my own gun already, would I still have to go through the background check.

    It’s a rhetorical question.

  18. Just another cynically manipulative bill, exploiting emotional blackmail over rare but tragic acts, to advance the agenda of inflicting as much pain as possible on all gun folks.

    It won’t prevent a single suicide, but it will inflict costs on the private sector that will grind it to a halt.

    As intended.

    • “Rent the lane, buy the ammo…the use of the gun is free.”

      It isn’t about transfer of money, but the transfer of temporary possession.

        • “And back again to the range itself. Costs and bureaucracy inducing delays.”

          Of course. When challenged, people who promulgate stupid laws do not re-evaluate; they double down. Which all too often seems to be a successful course of action.

  19. None of the consequences are “unintended.” The anti-gunner democrats know exactly what they are doing when they make these laws… long will it take for some on our side to understand this….?

  20. This dirty SOB is not the least bit concerned about suicides. It is a bill to tie up the gun buying process even further.
    1) It is just away to take away revenue from Gun Shops and put them out of business.
    2)More background Checks to bog down the already bogged down system
    3) Another way to TAX the citizen unfairly.

    The idea that this horrid man will use our VETS as a political pawn is LOW! Dirt bags like him and Gov. Northam are BLM terrorist and it shows. No respect for our Flag, our Vet, our Troop, our Police, EMT’s or fire fighters. DISGUSTING!!

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