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Richmond Times Dispatch: Va. House Likely to Pass One-Gun-a-Month Repeal Today Print


Created:  Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The House of Delegates is expected today to approve repealing the state's one-handgun-a-month law, with the state Senate likely to follow suit Thursday.  After significant debate Tuesday, legislation that would do away with the law — House Bill 940, carried by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William —advanced to its final reading on a voice vote.  Lingamfelter said the law, approved in 1993 with the blessing of Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to stifle the flow of handguns from Virginia to the Northeast, is obsolete because of instant background checks and the state's numerous exemptions.

But Del. Patrick A. Hope, D-Arlington, said he feared a return to the gun trafficking of the 1990s.  "We were the gun-running capital of the nation," he said. "Let's be serious — is one gun a month really an undue burden?"

Lingamfelter said the law now merely inconveniences law-abiding gun collectors, noting that federal law already prohibits the transfer of guns across state lines and adding that nothing prevents criminals from acquiring guns in "back alleys and through theft."

Only four other states have a one-handgun-a-month law on the books and South Carolina repealed its version in 2004.  Attempts to repeal Virginia's law in years past had been quashed by a Democratic-controlled Senate.

Republicans now maintain control of the chamber with Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling breaking ties in the evenly divided chamber.  Senate Bill 323, the counterpart to Lingamfelter's bill carried by Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr., R-Grayson, is

expected to clear the Senate on Thursday after squeaking out of committee last week on an 8-7 vote.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has indicated that he will support doing away with the law.

"This is a very sad day for Virginia," said Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, D-Henrico, after the House vote. "The repeal of this law has set Virginia back almost two decades."