To buy a handgun legally in Virginia, a person must be 21 and a resident of the state, which can be documented with a valid driver's license. A purchaser must fill out federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm form 4473, giving name and address, date and place of birth, height, weight and race. The ATF form asks eight questions:
1. Are you under indictment in any court for any crime for which the penalty could be more than a year?
2. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
3. Are you a fugitive from justice?
4. Are you an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, depressant, stimulant or narcotic drug?
5. Have you ever been adjudicated mentally deficient or committed to a mental institution?
6. Are you dishonorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces?
7. Are you an alien illegally in the United States?
8. Are you an American citizen who has ever renounced citizenship?
If any question is answered yes, you will be unable to buy any gun. Penalty for lying on the form or giving false or misleading information can be 10 years in prison and/or a $10,0w0 fine.
In most of Virginia, filling out that form is all that is required of a gun purchaser. But Alexandria, where Mrs. Robinson bought her .38, has a relatively tough local ordinance requiring the purchaser to fill out and sign another form giving name, address, occupation, business and resident phone numbers, date of birth, place of birth, race, sex, height, weight, color of eyes, color of hair, identifying marks, description of the weapon, make, barrel, caliber, serial number, automatic or revolver, model number and type of finish. The form then reads: "The applicant states that he has never been convicted of a crime of violence in the state of Virginia or elsewhere. A crime of violence is described as murder, manslaughter, rape, mayhem, maliciously disfiguring another, abduction, kidnapping, burglary, housebreaking, robbery, larceny, assault with intent to kill, commit rape or robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to commit any offense punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary or an attempt to commit any of such crimes. Note: Persons willfully making false statements in this application are subject to serve penalties as set forth in Alexandria, Va., city code (which sets maximum penalties of six months in jail and a $500 fine). The form is then sent to the Alexandria police, who have 72 hours to check local, state and national police records on the applicant.