Senate to repeal gun law
Bill will eliminate one-a-month handgun purchase regulation
Virginia Senate Bill 323, which would lift the commonwealth's current 18-year-old one-a-month gun law and allow gun permit holders to buy more than one handgun per month, looks set to pass in the Republican-run state Senate Monday.
Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Grayson, introduced the bill in January, and it reflects measures which have been put forth in the House of Delegates to loosen gun regulation.
Gov. Bob McDonnell's spokesperson Jeff Caldwell said in an email that technological advancements in gun control, such as federal and state background checks, make current policies outdated.
"It makes sense to revisit Virginia's one-handgun-a-month limit," he said, indicating the new technology reduces the need to impose a monthly limit on handgun purchases.
Caldwell also said the governor has pledged he will sign the bill into law if it is approved by the House and Senate, which now appears likely.
Larry Sabato, director of the University's Center for Politics, said in an email the developments are dramatic but not unexpected considering the GOP control of the General Assembly.
"This is one consequence of Republicans having won an enormous majority in the Virginia House and a tiny edge in the Senate," he said. "The GOP is very close to various Second Amendment groups that have always opposed the one-gun-a-month limitation."
Ahead of the Senate vote, the House also voted to repeal the one-a-month gun law. This took place Wednesday when the chamber passed House Bill 940, which was introduced by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge. The vote was 66-32 in favor of the measure.
In addition, the Senate approved Senate Bill 67 by a 26-14 vote Thursday. The legislation repeals regulations requiring first-time handgun purchasers to submit fingerprints as part of their permit applications.
Gov. Doug Wilder introduced the one-a-month gun law in 1993 to stop Virginia from being the "gun-running center of the East Coast," Sabato said, adding that the measure was received favorably at the time.
"He [Wilder] often said, 'No one needs more than 12 guns a year,'" Sabato said. "I can't imagine Gov. Wilder is happy about this development."
Opponents of the repeal say Wilder's law is necessary to ensure Virginia does not have an excess of guns.
Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Springfield, opposed the bill because of worries it would hurt the commonwealth, his Legislative Assistant Janet Muldoon said, echoing concerns of other Democrats.
"The question is how many guns is necessary; 400,000 guns were sold this December in the commonwealth," Muldoon said. "[Saslaw's] not comfortable with making it unlimited for the amount of guns that Virginians can obtain and making Virginia [the] gun capital in the East Coast," Muldoon said.
Senate Bill 323 was scheduled for a finale vote in the Senate Friday, but the Senate deferred review until Monday.