McAuliffe tries to restore Virginia’s One-Handgun-a-Month law

photo of a pistol

Governor Terry McAuliffe is hoping to restore Virginia’s One-Handgun-a-Month law, saying it will “counter Virginia’s shameful reputation as the gun-running capital of the East Coast.”

“Today I have sent down an amendment to a bill on my desk which will restore Virginia’s One-Handgun-a-Month law. The law, enacted in 1993 by then-Governor L. Douglas Wilder, was repealed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate in 2012 and signed by Governor Bob McDonnell,” McAuliffe said in a prepared statement. “The amendment will once again make it illegal to purchase more than one handgun in a 30-day period by Virginia residents and out-of-state purchasers.”

“Five years ago, the General Assembly took the ill-advised step of repealing this common-sense limitation. As a result, Virginia is once again becoming the go-to state for criminals to purchase weapons in bulk,” McAuliffe said.

Reaction is mixed

Attorney General Mark R. Herring praised the action, calling it “a great step to restore a commonsense measure that never should have been repealed in the first place.”

“Virginia’s weak gun laws make it too easy for guns to get into the hands of criminals, making our families, communities, and especially our law enforcement officers less safe, not to mention the heartbreak and damage these guns cause in neighboring states. When you’ve got gun runners on tape bragging about how weak our gun laws are it should be a pretty clear signal that something needs to change,” Herring said.

The Fairfax-based NRA was not so pleased.

“One-handgun-a-month laws place an arbitrary limit on the Second Amendment and have long been a staple on the anti-gun political wishlist. Law-abiding Virginians who are legally allowed to own and possess a firearm should not be prevented from doing so by this archaic legislation,” the organization said in an email.

McAuliffe noted a 627-count indictment earlier this month of 24 individuals – 22 of them Virginians – as part of a gun trafficking ring that brought over 200 weapons up the I-95 corridor to New York City. He recalled that one of the suspects was recorded boasting that he could get 20 guns in one day.

“I can do that Monday through Friday . . . They might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away,” the perpetrator allegedly said.

McAuliffe’s amendment will make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person other than a licensed firearms dealer to purchase more than one handgun within a 30-day period.

“The restoration of One-Handgun-a-Month, which is offered as an amendment to Senate Bill 1023, is a major step forward in making Virginia a safer place and ending its role in the proliferation of firearms up and down the East Coast,” McAuliffe said.

The Senate will consider McAuliffe’s amendment in April.


About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.