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Washington Examiner: Virginia Republicans to Push Pro-Gun Laws Print

Created:  Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 8:05 PM

Pro-gun Republicans in Virginia said they will press ahead with efforts to undo the state's gun laws in coming months, including the state's long-standing one handgun per month rule, even as last week's murder-suicide on Virginia Tech's campus revived painful memories of the 2007 massacre.

A handful of pro-gun bills is already in the works. Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, filed a bill last week that bars localities from offering incentives to gun owners to surrender their firearms and another banning clerks from releasing the names of individuals who have permits to carry concealed handguns.

Gun bills are a regular feature of any General Assembly session, but for years a Democratic Senate regularly killed them. However, next year the Senate will be split 20-20 between the parties with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican, casting tie-breaking votes, increasing the chances of pro-gun legislation passing.

The top target for pro-gun groups is lifting Virginia's limit of one handgun purchase per month.

"I really think this year is our best shot to repeal" the law, said David Adams, legislative committee chairman for the Virginia Shooting Sports Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association. The group will also push for liability protections for homeowners who shoot intruders inside their homes.

Gov. Bob McDonnell supported the one-gun-a-month limit in 1993, but on the campaign trail in 2009 he pledged to end the restriction. McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin reiterated that support Wednesday, saying the limit is unnecessary because of "major advances in computerized background check technology since the law was first put on the books."

Last week, a Virginia Tech police officer was shot and killed by 22-year-old Ross Ashley, who used a legally purchased handgun. The shocking murder-suicide immediately stirred fears of the 2007 mass shooting in which 32 people were shot to death.

Gun control advocates said they believe many of the previously defeated gun measures could succeed in a statehouse now largely controlled by Republicans.

"Republicans are going to be responsible for what comes out and whatever results from the decisions they make," said Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington. "In all likelihood they will become law. People should get ready for the wild, wild West here in Virginia, and I'm not sure that's what people voted for when they went to the booths in November."