Senate Repeals Handgun Limit

Sen. Chap Petersen votes against bill, says current law already has "multiple exceptions for gun-owning Virginians"

A bill passed by the Virginia Senate on Monday will end a 19-year-old limit on handgun purchases, a move praised by gun rights activists but criticized by others that say it has helped curb gun trafficking across the state.

SB 323, which passed 21-19, eliminates the state law that prohibits residents from purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period. The House has already passed a version of the bill; Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has indicated he'll sign it into law, the Washington Post reported.

Those who voted for the bill say the law, passed in 1993, was outdated. Background checks and other security measures have also been introduced to effectively curb gun trafficking since then, some senators told the Washington Post.

Opponents have said easy access to firearms have contributed to tragedies like Virginia Tech, along with a host of other gun-fueled crimes across Northern Virginia in the past few years.

Sens. Chap Petersen (D-34th), Janet Howell (D-32nd) and Barbara Favola (D-31st), all Democrats, voted against the bill.

"Despite what supporters of [Virginia Senate] Bill 323 say, this bill will make it easier for gun-runners to export gun violence from Virginia," Favola tweeted Tuesday.

In an email Wednesday, Petersen said the "one-gun-a-month" tag for the law is misleading: In reality, it applies to handguns only, and concealed carry permit holders along with police and military members can already buy more than one handgun a month, he said. Residents can also buy more than one handgun a month at gun shows, Petersen said.

"Right now we have a system that works well," Petersen said. "Gun owners feel like their rights are respected in this state and this law [as is] is an acceptable compromise."

Petersen said the current law has "multiple exceptions for gun-owning Virginians who want to purchase more than one handgun per month."

"The only limitation I see is on out-of-state purchasers who attempt to buy multiple hand-guns at one time," he said.

Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67th District) stuck to his word and voted against the bill, one of four Republican delegates to do so.

"What bugs me is that they're not just saying let's go from one to two or one to five. They're saying let's go from one to no limit," LeMunyon told Patch . "So you have a situation of someone who is fairly young, doesn't have a criminal record so there's no background to check, who can buy 500 of these things and turn around and sell them illegally. Six hours later they're in New York. If I were a gun bad guy, that's exactly what I would do."

Gun rights have emerged in several other bills this session: At least five are still alive in the Senate, with four more on tap in the House.

Joe Brenchick February 09, 2012 at 01:55 PM
First, I strongly disagree with Petersen saying "Gun owners feel like their rights are respected in this state and this law [as is] is an acceptable compromise." What other Amendment do you think we could comprise rationing out? Freedom of The Press, but you only need one Newspaper? The Fourth and Fifth Amendments are outdated and besides, if you have nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, why would you need them? What part of “Shall Not Be Infringed” do you fail to understand? You either believe in the Constitution and the Bill Of Rights or you don’t. There is no pick and choose. As for the rest of the objections. They seem to run the same old tired hysteria which plays on emotions and fears, but never comes to pass.
bja23 February 11, 2012 at 11:16 PM
There is no evidence that laws restricting guns ever prevent crime. Actually, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Simply put, criminals do not care what the law says. If you make it illegal for them to by a gun (or 500 guns), they will simply by them from an illegal source. And I wish people would stop using the Virginia Tech tragedy to push their anti-gun agenda. Even if guns were illegal, the assailant could have gotten one. Just look at how easily criminals get guns in nations where they are illegal. Gun laws only affect law abiding people.


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