5 years ago
From LA Times Editorial.
Virginia is for lovers — of guns. Last week that state’s Senate, newly under Republican control after a GOP election surge in November, overturned a 20-year-old law that barred residents from buying more than one handgun a month. Why? Apparently because in Virginia, deadly firearms are like Lay’s potato chips — you can’t stop at just one.
Virginia’s refusal to close the notorious “gun-show loophole” has long been criticized by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who frets that relatively tough regulations in his state are undermined when criminals can easily purchase firearms in other states and bring them into New York. In fact, similar worriesabout interstate gun-running were what prompted Virginia’s Legislature to restrict handgun purchases in 1993. But with Republican lawmakers and two Democrats from rural districts eager to make a statement about gun rights, the state Senate approved the repeal by a 21-19 vote, and Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected to sign it.
Backers say they’re just trying to bring Virginia’s laws in line with those in other states, pointing out that only California, Maryland and New Jersey have monthly limits on handgun purchases. Moreover, they say the ban isn’t effective because it doesn’t apply to groups such as police officers and holders of concealed weapons permits. But that’s a reason to strengthen the law, not to repeal it. And we have yet to hear a gun-rights advocate articulate why any law-abiding citizen has a compelling need to buy more than one gun a month. Criminals sometimes need to get their hands on a lot of guns at once to pull off a big job or to keep gangs well-armed; citizens who want to protect their homes from intruders have no such imperative.
A more colorful way of phrasing that point came from state Democratic Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, who noted to the Richmond Times-Dispatch that if a Virginian had bought one handgun a month from the time the ban was enacted until today, he would have 240 guns. “If you need more than 240 handguns, then I would submit something’s wrong with you. Something’s gone wrong in your life,” he said.
I’m sure that armies of criminals await this change in the law to run down to their local Sheriff, apply for a weapons permit, purchase hundreds of weapons, and then pull off the robbery of the century. The only problem is that Saslaw’s hysterical objection has nothing to do with the real problem behind the the law.
The issue pertains to much more mundane things that tend to dominate the lives of real, law-abiding citizens. For example, if someone gets a bonus check or tax refund once per year, and the surplus tends to get gone if it isn’t spent quickly (you know, on accoutrements- and odds and ends associated with home ownership), he might need to purchase more than a single weapon in one month.
Or perhaps someone finds a good deal on multiple weapons he has been watching for some time. Waiting a month would mean watching the deal disappear. Or perhaps someone wants to invest in something that isn’t losing its value and is actually fun to bequeath to his children and grandchildren. Or perhaps he is simply a collector and aficionado, and happens to have the money to invest in weapons.
In any of theses examples (and many more), Mr. Saslaw has rudely impugned the character of the gun owner. If I could only own 240 handguns (not to mention long guns), well, that would be awesome, and I would do it in a heartbeat if I had the money. And according to the bill, it would be none of Saslaw’s business.
I like the idea of Mr. Saslaw having nothing to do with how I or his constituents spend money. Oh, and as one of my colleagues at reddit.com/r/guns points out, Seung-Hui Cho bought both of his guns in a Virginia gun store and was subject to the 1 handgun a month law. Perhaps Mr. Saslaw needs to worry himself with things other than how his constituents spend their money. Perhaps being Enid Strict isn’t the real purpose of his office.
Now, I was thinking, as for those 240 handguns I want …