Bill To Repeal “One Handgun A Month” Shot Down

282244_gun_2In 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The sponsor of the bill to repeal says the existing law is now out of date.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.


  1. Notice the stacked sub-committee. That is what it took to keep a law on the books that is both unpopular and irrelevant – but serves the sub-committee’s needs because its members don’t believe in your Second Amendment rights. Notice all the names in the article are Democrats from higher crime urban areas where they believe your law-abiding gun ownership is the problem. The criminals and higher crime rates in their districts do not represent the rest of Virginia – which is rural and is pro-gun. They forget that the criminals by definition are not going to abide by gun laws no matter what laws they pass.
    This is the perfect example of where legislators game the system. Legislating against the will of your constituents may be justifiable, but this kind of action is not. We know that this bill would have passed if it had gotten out this sub-committee and the anti-gun legislators knew it too. This patently stacked board was all that stood in the way of a reversal of the law for the whole state – not just their district. It is not Democracy when you game the system this way – its parlaimentary procedures are we are all getting sick of those.

    – G.S.

    • Does a senate stacked with democrats overshadow the impracticality of purchasing more than one handgun a month? Didn’t the people of Virginia elect these “democrats”? Speaking as a rural Virginian, I take pride in having the freedom of land and an absence of urban rank, but it doesn’t compel me to buy multiple handguns a month. When I hunt deer I use a rifle, I don’t flash my piece.
      And aren’t we talking about states rights anyway? Why should a federal amendment influence or inhibit a state to enact it’s own policies?….Yeah, I guess that’s a whole different topic. I own firearms, but do not feel threatened by this situation or feel that it is tramping upon my rights. There ARE forms of tyranny happening that I take great offense to. This is not one of them. I guess personal liberty is a contestable subject, ain’t it?

      I support the second amendment. Just not exclusively.

      P.S. Great name by the way. I enjoy your argument.

      • SST – you are right, I am not terribly threatened by only owning one gun a month. I own 3 handguns total and their purchases are all years apart. It is the slippery slope I worry about. I fight it tooth and nail. You can apply the slippery slope to calling CO2 a ‘pollutant’ or a small, temporary, additional tax on your town water bill to pay for improvements. The small, barely intrusive government has a tendancy to grow once you let it.

        You are also right that these guys were duly elected by Virginians – however, I keep going to back to the stacked board. They are what prevented the measure from getting to the floor. Does that represent Virginian sentiment? This bill didn’t come from nowhere, someone had to create and co-sponsor it on behalf of their constituents.

        I also think the Civil War pretty conclusively settled the issue that the federal government and its Constitution takes precedence over the states.

        And lastly, you are right. There are FAR greater dangers to our liberties than not repealing an old gun law. I talk about those too in my blog. Go check it out. Tell your friends! I like civil, educated discourse. I learn more from people that disagree with me! Thanks for the compliment too.

        – G.S.

  2. Jim Gibson says:

    The law in question does not infringe on any law abiding citizen’s right to own a gun; it merely moderates the frequency such purchases can be made. The statistics cited bear out the the rationale for the law – the #s of guns traceable to Virginia used in violent crimes has markedly gone down. That is a good thing.

    Can criminals find ways around any law? Sure they can. Was this a case of political “gaming the system”? Perhaps. Still…it is a good law. A gun seller cannot truly discern a buyer’s intentions when making the sale. To me, it’s like the speed limits – every law abiding citizen has the right and opportunity to learn to drive a vehicle on our roads, but unchecked speeds are inherently dangerous. Thus, we moderate them via speed limits. People still speed, of course, with often disastrous consequences. So…while we might not like our speed moderated, it’s for a larger purpose. Same with this gun law.

    • My main point was to point out the gaming of the system. Obviously it is out of step with the gun-ownership environment of today.

      As for the angle you took – I call upon my libertarian roots and the tiny words at the bottom of the picture on my post above:

      “Don’t Tread On Me”

      This is the perfect example of slippery-slope legislation typical in gun-control measures. A nanny-state government is trying to protect some nebulous entity (in this case out-of-state gun victims) for another nebulous idea (the common good). Side note: when is it Virginia’s responsibility to protect another state’s citizens and why are we burdening Virginia’s residents with a law that is cited as doing such?

      I also must note that gun ownership is a right but also a RESPONSIBILITY. Driving is a priviledge and a responsibility. There is a Constitutional difference, so the correlation isn’t perfect because our gun rights in theory should be more protected. Even in your example of driving though, I can show you this slippery slope of nanny-statism.

      It used to be there were no seatbelt laws. Then it was a secondary offense (you couldn’t get pulled over for not wearing one). Now not wearing a seatbelt is a primary offense and you can get pulled over for non-compliance as quick as you would for a speeding ticket. Is the general premise of seatbelt laws (like limiting gun sales to slow interstate crime) sound good in theory? I can see how one can say ‘yes’. However it gives government just one more way to regulate you all in the name of your and other people’s safety – which is a loss of freedoms.

      What happened to me being responsible to my family and its well-being by wearing a seatbelt? If I die needlessly in a crash, it causes them anguish and I can’t support them anymore. Do I need the government to tell me that? Do I need law enforcement officials time (and our tax-payer dollars) pulling me over for a seatbelt infraction when they should be doing more constructive things? No I don’t. Along the same lines, what about my duty to not impinge on others rights? The whole ‘life, liberty, pursuit of happiness’ bit? With the seat belt, its not a problem. I’m only killing myself. Guns are different though. If I sell/give a straw purchased gun to a known criminal then not only am I breaking the law, I am impinging on someone else’s rights. That is my responsibility as a gun owner. If I can’t uphold that responsibility, then there are laws in place already and I’ll be in a world of hurt.

      In the end, yes, it is a small measure, but especially with guns, the gun-grabbing always begins small and with something that isn’t terribly objectionable. I don’t like parlaimentary tricks, but I REALLY don’t need government to regulate me for the ‘common good’. I do not propose anarchy…but somehow the state of Virginia survived long before Doug Wilder put this law on the books years ago. Its outlived is relevance, especially with the national background check in place.

      In any case, I appreciate your point of view Jim. I think you now better understand the nuance of my argument. We may have different feelings of how much government we need in our lives and that is a philosophical difference. I think you and I want the same thing in the end – which is responsible gun ownership – I believe it is rests with the individual and you believe the state needs to help too. Its terrible though when the will of the people is not represented an the system is gamed to keep an out-moded law on the books, despite anyone’s opinion. We do live in a democracy, not a parlaimentary bureaucracy (we’re getting there though).

      Just be wary of non-representing representatives AND the slippery slope – just like the seatbelts.

      – G.S.