In a year that has seen a slew of gun legislation introduced in the Virginia General Assembly, the Democratically-controlled Senate has thrown the breaks on a repeal of the “one gun a month law” in the Commonwealth. The signature 1993 gun law passed in Virginia limiting handgun purchases to one a month will remain in place for the time being. Legislation introduced to repeal the law was rejected by a Senate sub-panel Thursday afternoon. The panel left the bill in committee essentially killing it in this session.
In 1993 the Virginia General Assembly amended and reenacted §18.2-308.2:2, Code of Virginia, making it unlawful for any person who is not a licensed firearms dealer to purchase more than 1 handgun within any 30-day period. The law was passed in response to severe criticism from outside the Commonwealth, particularly in Washington D.C. and New York, that Virginia had become the gun running capital of the east. Criminals were crossing the Potomac into Virginia and using straw buyers to acquire multiple handguns that were ending up on the streets in D.C., New York and New Jersey. The high profile campaign for the law was spearheaded by the Democratic governor, Douglas Wilder. Almost immediately after the law was enacted, the numbers of guns traced to Virginia that were used in crimes in the Northeast, particularly in New York, dropped sharply.
The sponsor of the bill to repeal says the existing law is now out of date. The repeal was proposed by Republican L. Scott Lingamfelter, a retired Army colonel who insists Virginians’ Second Amendment rights are being restricted unnecessarily. He argues that advances in technology give gun sellers the ability to verify buyers criminal records instantaneously through the National Instant Check System, which didn’t exist when the law was passed.
Governor Bob McDonnell has stated his support for gun rights in the Commonwealth and said he would sign the repeal of the one gun a month law if passed by the Senate. During his campaign for election, McDonnell faced tough criticism from gun rights advocates because he voted for the limit when he was a lawmaker from Virginia Beach.
To defeat the bill, the Democratically controlled Senate created a sub committee stacked with pro-gun control Democrats. These included, Sen. Henry Marsh, Sen. Toddy Puller, Sen. Janet Howell and Sen. Louise Lucas. The controversial maneuver prompted a flurry of protests but in the end the panel was able to stay the effort to roll back the 1993 gun control law for at least another year.