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Monday, February 13, 2012

Creigh Deeds on Repeal of Handgun Rationing

State Senator Creigh Deeds wrote an Op/Ed for the Augusta Free Press on Friday, February 10, updating his constituients on the progress of the 2012 General Assembly Session.  He had this to say about his vote to repeal Virginia's handgun rationing law:
One of the most divisive issues, however, is the repeal of the one gun a month law. Frankly, I know many of my friends and supporters will disagree with my vote in favor of the repeal.  Anyone familiar with my voting history or my public statements on this matter cannot be surprised.

When the law passed in 1993 I voted no because I thought it would have primarily symbolic value and not effectively deter crime.  I am not convinced that restricting the right to purchase firearms of those who obey the law deters crime.  People intent on violating the law are going to find a way to obtain the weapons they want, so the law only curtails behavior of law-abiding citizens.  Over the years, nothing has convinced me otherwise.  I have not seen empirical data to suggest the law has prevented people intent on committing crime from obtaining weapons.

The Second Amendment guarantees gun possession and ownership as a constitutionally protected personal right.  Limiting that right is a serious matter.  I do not own a handgun and have no desire to purchase one, so I understand the sentiment of proponents of the law inquiring why someone needs more than 12 guns per year.  However, I also cannot understand why one would need to buy six a year, or 24 a year.  Any limit set on this matter is arbitrary.

The reality is, under current law, people can already purchase more than one handgun a month.  During the 19 years after its enactment, numerous exceptions have been granted.  Among those exceptions are collectors, law enforcement officers, private sale and antique purchases, concealed carry permit holders, and private security companies.  In addition, nothing in the law prevents someone from purchasing unlimited numbers of rifles or shotguns.

People tend to talk in platitudes about the one gun a month law.  Either “the law ended gun running from the Commonwealth” or “it was an unreasonable limitation on gun ownership.”  The facts on the gun running claim are not clear.  I have not seen any empirical data suggesting the law significantly reduced the number of guns originating from Virginia involved in crime in other states.  In fact, the anecdotal evidence is mixed at best.   Some will argue that guns involved in crime from New York still come from Virginia; others will argue the rates have diminished.  There is simply not a convincing case to be made that the law effectively deterred gun-related violence.
If you live in Senator Deeds' district, please thank him for his vote.

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