Critics say Va.’s gun laws could encourage trafficking
Open season for gun enthusiasts in Virginia begins July 1, as state residents will be allowed to purchase more than one handgun per month for the first time since 1993.
The General Assembly voted to repeal its 19-year-old restriction on gun sales that stemmed from Virginia’s days as a key cog in the “iron pipeline,” when about 40 percent of guns traced from New York City crimes originated in Virginia.
The one-handgun-per-month limit accomplished its goal of reducing the number of Virginia guns used to commit crimes in other states, according to a 1995 report by the Virginia State Crime Commission, but proponents of the repeal said mandatory background checks for gun buyers made the limit archaic and unnecessary.
Some family members of those killed or wounded during the shooting spree at Virginia Tech in 2007 lobbied Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto the repeal, but he signed it into law less than a week later.
“We find it shameful that Gov. McDonnell would chose to repeal Virginia’s landmark one-handgun-per-month law over the objections of some law enforcement officials and the objections of Virginia Tech families,” said Brian Malte, director of legislation for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
A Richmond Times-Dispatch poll from February showed that 66 percent of Virginians opposed repealing the one-gun-per-month law.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-gun group, said that repeal was based on a constitutional protection, not a public need.
“Why do you need to be a Jew or need to be a Catholic?” President Philip Van Cleave said. “You don’t need it, but you want it. That’s what we call freedom and liberty.”
Van Cleave said opponents of the repeal who argued that no reasonable person should need more than one handgun per month missed the point.
“We don’t limit that you can only go to church two times a month or only say 10 words per day,” Van Cleave said. “This was an artificial limitation placed on a right, and the repeal is way over due.”
But Malte disagreed.
“This is not a limitation on a right, “ he said. “It’s a law used to stop gun trafficking at the point of purchase.”
Since its inception in 1993, legislators added several exceptions to the one-handgun-per-month law to allow people to acquire multiple guns if they could pass enhanced background checks or earn a concealed carry permit. Opponents of the repeal said those provisions would accommodate any law-abiding citizen or collector who wanted more than one handgun in a 30-day period, thus making the repeal useless.
Malte noted that even with the one-a-month restriction, people could still purchase 12 handguns per year under the old law.
“If someone is going to buy 19 guns at once, they’re not going to be taking them home as Christmas presents,” he said.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has long been involved in Virginia’s gun control debate, criticized the state legislature shortly after the one-handgun-a-month repeal became official.
“I just think that guns are a problem for everybody in America,” Bloomberg told Richmond’s CBS station. “The only one that’s going to buy that quantity of guns is somebody that plans to traffic them.”
Bloomberg donated a total of $150,000 to six Democratic Virginia Senate candidates during 2011, hoping to help strengthen the state’s gun laws. While several pro-gun bills failed during the 2012 session, Bloomberg said he would continue to scrutinize Virginia until the flow of guns stopped.
“Keep the guns from coming to New York, and you won’t hear from me in Virginia,” he said.
But Van Cleave said the gun smuggling issue had been misrepresented. Although he conceded that the problem existed during the early 1990s, he blamed New York criminals for causing it.
“It wasn’t some industrious Virginian smuggling guns to New York City, it’s people coming from New York to Virginia to get guns by some illegal means,” Van Cleave said. “It’s really their problem. They need to keep their criminals and drugs in New York. I’m not giving up my rights because New York can’t control its criminals.”
Other gun bills received mixed support during the 2012 General Assembly, as lawmakers passed a bill allowing state employees to keep firearms in locked cars at work and repealed fingerprint requirements for concealed-carry permits. But, legislators also rejected a repeal of Virginia’s background check laws and a bill to force colleges to allow students and professors to carry concealed weapons in campus facilities.
But Malte said that the one-handgun-per-month repeal — coupled with the refusal to close the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows people to buy guns from unlicensed dealers at gun shows without undergoing a background check — undermines Virginia’s ability to stop gun trafficking.
“We need background checks on all gun sales, and we need a one-gun-every-30-days limit,” Malte said. “Those two laws will ensure that dangerous people don’t get weapons.”
Image: Virginia State Capitol building. Anderskev, via Wikimedia Commons.
“But Malte said that the one-handgun-per-month repeal — coupled with the refusal to close the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows people to buy guns from unlicensed dealers at gun shows without undergoing a background check — undermines Virginia’s ability to stop gun trafficking.”
Not true. It’s illegal under federal law for people to buy guns from any unlicensed dealer. It’s illegal at gun shows. They arrest people for that and send them to federal prison for it. There is no gun show loophole when it’s a federal felony to deal guns without a license at a gun show.
In Response to “A Critic”,
You might want to look a little more closely at the Applicable Laws. Federal Law specifically states in regards to a “Dealer”: “but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms”. So if I am selling a Gun that I own that’s NOT a business transaction (meaning that that is NOT how I make my living) then I don’t have to do the Background Check nor do I have to have the Buyer fill out a Form 4473. This is not unlike the person selling their car not being required to collect and then remit to the State the Sales Tax on the transaction.
Your “unlicensed dealer” is actually a “private citizen” engaging in Lawful Activity.
I laugh when people make crazy comments like “it will be like the wild west if this law changes” …funny…many other states don’t have crazy laws like these and things are fine. Then again our most of our politicians only care about the rights of criminals. They are the only ones with the “right” to free education, housing, food, medical.
1: The Virginia Tech murderer legally purchased the two handguns he used in that crime while “one gun a month” was in force. In other words, that crime had absolutely nothing to do with “one gun a month”. Therefore, the Virginia Tech victims and families enjoy no special insight into that particular law and their opinions on it are no more valid or weighty than, say, mine. In fact, I would contend that their opinions on ANY gun law, regardless of whether said law had any bearing on Virginia Tech, carry no more weight than any other citizen’s. Being a victim does not grant one special wisdom or knowledge about what’s “best” for society as a whole. Emotion is not a valid basis for the setting of public policy or law.
2: ” ‘If someone is going to buy 19 guns at once, they’re not going to be taking them home as Christmas presents,’ he said.”
But he’s not advocating an “18 guns at once” limitation, he’s advocating a ONE gun at a time limitation. The use of hyperbole to inject emotion into the discussion is a sure indicator of the weakness of the argument.
3: ” ‘This is not a limitation on a right,’ he said. ‘It’s a law used to stop gun trafficking at the point of purchase.’ ”
“The law limiting people to two religious services a month is not a limitation on a right” he said, “It’s a law used to reduce the incidence of religious fanaticism.”
The law limiting free speech to 10 words or less is not a limitation on a right” he said, “It’s a law used to prevent incitements to violence and slander.”
“laws limiting people’s rights are not limitations on people’s rights as long as some arbitrary and fallacious reason can be articulated” he said.
And if you believe that, I’ve some primo beachfront property to sell you in the Mojave.
Studies show that all of these beliefs that gun control stops crime are myths. They are full of hope and they seem to be “doing something.” But they don’t work. And where there is less crime, we find there are fewer restrictions on ordinary citizens buying, keeping, and bearing arms. In fact, the safest states have few or no laws restricting firearms. In countries where gun control has successfully spread, the citizens are now sitting ducks for criminals. Rape, slavery, assault, torture, and murder all are up in those countries. And in US states that have recently relaxed laws, crime has gone done by a significant amount. Wake up, people.
I think the biggest problem in this country is little facsists like bloomberg. The families of the va tech victims don’t get a veto over my rights and in fact many of families don not agree with bloomberg or his cronies. The next time bloomberg comes to Va he should be arrested for conspiracy to make straw man purchases and for providing the funding. Maybe I’ll make a citizens arrest of the fathead.
Where I live asking snmeooe if they own a gun would get a “yes” about as often as asking them if they owned a car. The truth that when secnds count the police are ony minutes away is quite obviouis in rural America.I bought my first pistol a few weeks ago, primarily for home protection and to carry on walks and bicycle rides. You never know what kind of animals my pop out of the woods. Bears and mountain lions have been reported in my county. I’ve seen a bobcat on my back porch and in my front yard. Plus a wild dog or coyote is always a possibilty.As for doctors, my doctor made enough mistakes in my treatment for me to go elsewhere. Simple stuff like incorrectly running glucose test and such. We could save a lot of lives if doctors policed themselves better.I think I’ll use Trey’s response if asked. I keep my gun unloaded but the clip and gun within reach of each other.