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Only 1 handgun a month? Virginia lawmakers see no point in limit

February 7, 2012 | 11:20 am

HandgunsFor all those gun enthusiasts who feel constrained by Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month purchase limit, this bill’s for you: The Virginia Senate has voted to lift the 20-year-old limit to allow buying as many handguns as desired.

The measure stands a good chance of becoming law, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Tuesday. The Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill last week, and Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has indicated he will sign it into law.

"The albatross is almost dead," said Philip van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, referring to the one-gun-a-month law enacted in 1993 to combat interstate gun trafficking.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr., said the bill would bring Virginia in line with 46 other states, leaving only California, Maryland and New Jersey with similar handgun purchase limits.

"Today, the Senate took a stand for the Second Amendment by eliminating an unnecessary and outdated law," Carrico said in a statement.

Supporters of the bill, who included most of the Legislature’s Republicans as well as some Democrats from rural areas, contend that the state’s updated computerized check system makes the current law unnecessary.

Monday's passage of the bill drew withering criticism from the mother of a Virginia Tech student wounded in the 2007 shootings at the university.

"Virginia has had more than its share of horrific tragedies perpetrated by criminals with easy access to firearms,'' said Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily was one of 25 people injured in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, which killed 35. "It’s a sad day when our legislators purposely make it easier for gun traffickers to do their dirty business."

Richard Cullen, a Republican and a former U.S. attorney in Virginia, said the one-gun-a-month law had been successful and should remain in place.

In 1993, gunrunning was a major problem up and down the East Coast, and I am convinced that this law had a significant impact in reducing gunrunning," Cullen said. "So I’m disappointed that it’s being repealed."

Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, a Democrat who opposes the bill, said allowing people to buy more than one handgun a month wouldn’t make Virginia any safer. Anyone who had bought a handgun a month under the current law would have amassed 240 guns during the law’s 20-year span.

If you need more than 240 handguns, then I would submit something's wrong with you," he said. "Something's gone wrong in your life."

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-- David Zucchino in Durham, N.C.

Photo: If Virginia lifts its one-handgun-a-month limit, only three states -- California, Maryland and New Jersey -- would have such limits. Here, handguns are shown on display at the National Shooting Sports Foundation's 34th annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 17. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

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