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The Los Angeles Times’ anonymous editorial writer (at least I couldn’t find attribution) thinks Virginia is making a big mistake. In fact the headline of the editorial is Virginia shoots itself in the foot on handguns, referring to the repeal of Virginia’s sensible one gun a month law. Here we go . . .

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.

Actually many people can and do stop at one; according to Josh Horwitz of the Campaign to Stop Gun Violence, in 2010 only about 1.26% of NICS checks were for multiple gun sales (and even that doesn’t break down whether the sales were handguns or long guns). No, it’s being told by the government that you can’t buy more than one handgun a month that bothers freedom lovers.

As for why the Legislature repealed the law, it was for much more rational and logical reasons than eating potato chips. The law was repealed because it had failed in its avowed purpose. And with the SCOTUS rulings in Heller and McDonald, its constitutionality was seriously brought into question. Can you imagine any other enumerated individual right being limited to one-a-month legislation?

I’m sorry, but you already went to church this month, you’ll have to wait another week. Your father’s funeral? I’m sorry, you should have planned ahead.

Our records show that you’ve already purchased your book for the month, come back next month and we’ll see what we can do for you.

I just don’t see either of those scenarios passing Constitutional muster. And really, isn’t the phrase ‘deadly firearms’ redundant? After all, Col. Cooper’s second rule is “Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.”

But enough picking nits, we have bigger fish to fry.

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.

Ah, yes, the notorious gun show “loophole”. The loophole which means that every single law that applies outside a gun show also applies inside. The “loophole” which, according to Firearm Use by Offenders, Bureau of Justice Statistics, February 2002 provided less than 2% of criminals with their firearms. Maybe the loophole is “notorious” because the media can’t stop jabbering about it. A Google search of the phrase “gun show loophole” from 2/20/2011 to 2/20/2012 returns more than six thousand hits.

And if New York has “relatively tough regulations” on guns, causing criminals to travel to “other states and bring them into New York”, why is it that according to page 6 of this ATF report, New York State was the #1 supplier of “crime guns” in New York State? New York supplied more than four times as many “crime guns” to itself than did the next highest supplier. In addition the average time-to-crime for a NYS “crime gun” was 13.65 years or almost 1 1/4 times the national average (a time-to-crime of less than 3 years is considered strong evidence of gun trafficking). In fact only 725 (or 8.2%) of New York’s “crime guns” had a time to crime under 3 years.

Back to AEW:

In fact, similar worries about 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.

Indeed, similar worries did prompt the OGAM act, 20 years ago, before we had any sort of computerized sales tracking. This is why Gov. McDonnell voted for the bill as a legislator but is now willing to sign the repeal. Furthermore, OGAM was supposed to severely curtail, if not end, firearms trafficking from Virginia. Indeed, according to the Brady Bunch’s position statement on limiting bulk firearm sales:

POSITION: The Brady Campaign supports laws limiting the bulk purchase of handguns in order to thwart gun trafficking and help keep guns out of the criminal market.

SOLUTION: …. These “One Handgun A Month” laws do not impact the typical gun owner but do help put gun traffickers out of business and help dry up the supply of illegal guns.:

And in the Brady’s FAQ section on gun trafficking:

Q. Do limits on large-volume gun sales help prevent gun trafficking?

A. Yes. It’s just common sense that if you prevent handguns from being bought in large numbers, it will make it more difficult for traffickers to acquire guns to resell on the streets to criminals.

Since OGAM was passed in order to thwart trafficking, what has been the result? According to the ATF’s trace data from 2006200720082009 and 2010 (2010 being the most recently available as I write this), Virginia was New York state’s largest out-of-state source for “crime guns.” And according to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns website, Virginia had the 7th highest rate of “crime gun exports” in 2009. Another of their tables which provides raw numbers rather than rates shows that Virginia was the top 2nd or 3rd “crime gun supplier” for 2006 through 2009.

So what do you think; were legislators really “eager to make a statement about gun rights”? Or perhaps were they cognizant of the fact that a law which was supposed to help solve a problem in fact did nothing? AEW continues:

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.

Sorry AEW, you have had your chance. You and your ilk got this law passed in order to curb or halt gun trafficking from Virginia to other states and it has been in effect for almost 19 years now. You promised that it would work, and it hasn’t. It was Albert Einstein who famously defined insanity as: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Besides, you can’t have it both ways. The ATF has instituted multiple long gun sales reporting in Mexican border states in order to limit or eliminate trafficking (which, aside from their own F&F efforts doesn’t really exist). They say that tracking these purchases will help them identify straw purchasers and traffickers. But since 1975, all FFLs nationwide have been required to report multiple handgun sales (defined as 2 purchases in 5 days or less). So by this logic, Virginia’s OGAM law actually was preventing the ATF from getting data on straw purchasers and traffickers.

The drivel continues:

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.

Well if you haven’t heard it, you haven’t been paying attention. Nick Leghorn of The Truth About Guns ran headfirst into the OGAM limit when he was trying to do testing on ported guns.

What about someone who needs a pistol for protection against an abusive ex, but two days after he buys it, the weapon suffers a catastrophic failure? Or the ex steals his car with the gun in it? Are you saying that she doesn’t have a compelling need for another weapon?

When I was stationed in Norfolk and I went to a gun show with a couple of thousand in back pay burning a hole in my pocket. I found the exact model of 1914 Vest Pocket Mauser my grandfather, um, acquired when he was in France during WWI. In fact, the dealer had a pair of them with sequential serial numbers. It would have been a crime to split them up. If OGAM had been in effect at the time, I would have been unable to buy the pair.

At another table I saw someone with a Tec-9 for $200 and he was willing to give me 10% off because I was in the military. I’d been wanting one of those since I first saw them so I snatched it up. Couldn’t have done it if OGAM had been in effect.

Then there was my friend Joel who acquired a neo-Nazi stalker (Joel was Jewish). Joel needed to get several pistols in a hurry; one each for himself, his wife, and his sister (who lived with him temporarily) and one for each of the kids’ rooms.

And finally, who the frack are you to judge my “need” or to tell me when, where and how I can exercise my natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right[1]?

AEW then brings up a completely irrelevant point:

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.

Okay, but I don’t want 240 random pistols; I want that Baby Eagle I saw on sale and the (lightly) used S&W .357 Magnum I saw two weeks later. I want to be able to take my tax refund in to the dealer and order the four pistols I’ve always wanted and not have to wait four months to get them. Okay, three months, but you get the point.

AEW concludes with (and this is going to take some breaking down):

Effective lobbying by the National Rifle Assn., combined with a reflexive antipathy to gun laws by conservative voters

Actually most conservatives I know don’t have “reflexive” antipathy for gun laws, they leave unthinking reactions to liberals. Which actually is unfair. One of my good friends is a serious gunny and he is also a serious liberal; socialized medicine, tax the rich, the whole nine yards.

No we gunnies tend to have mature political positions. We’ve thought about the issues, looked at facts, looked at history, looked at other cities’, states’, countries’ experiences and made reasoned decisions. We are willing to look at facts like whether a law performs as promised, and when it doesn’t, especially if it is a law which infringes upon an enumerated fundamental Constitutional right, we believe it should be repealed.

— even when they would have no impact on the rights of law-abiding citizens —

That is both irrelevant and wrong. Irrelevant because even if such a restriction has no impact on an individual’s rights, it’s still a restriction of those rights (and isn’t it interesting that AEW acknowledges that gun rights belong to individual citizens). It is wrong because you are telling me that I can not exercise a portion of my right more than once a month which assuredly does “have an impact.”

have turned gun control into a dead issue politically, abandoned by Democratic lawmakers who once championed it.

So if it is conservatives who “reflexively” don’t like gun laws, why does that affect Democrat politicians? Are conservatives are a voting bloc that Democrats must court? Or is it perhaps that people across the political spectrum are opposed to new gun laws (as suggested by polling numbers showing that between October 2008 and October 2011, support for a ban on handguns fell from 29% to 26%, support for stricter gun laws fell from 49% to 43%, those favoring no change went from 41% to 44% and those favoring less strict gun laws rose from 8% to 11%)?

But even if new restrictions are off the table, that’s no reason to scrap sensible laws already on the books.

Objection Your Honor! Journalist is attempting to introduce statements not merely unsupported by evidence, but actively contradicted by the evidence. OGAM does not do what it was supposed to and is an infringement on peoples’ rights therefore it can in no way be classified as a sensible gun law.

Virginia’s repeal is a gift to killers that will endanger people in nearby states.

Really? Let’s hear what an actual killer has to say on the subject:

Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, the Mafia turncoat, was asked about gun control in an interview in Vanity Fair.

“Gun control?  It’s the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters,” Gravano said.  “I want you to have nothing.  If I’m a bad guy, I’m always gonna have a gun.”

No, despite knicker soiling hysteria on the part of hoplophobes and the media, the passage of OGAM in Virginia had no effect on the illegal gun market and it’s repeal will have a similar lack of effect.

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  1. Before the Virginia Legislature decided to enact the One Handgun a Month Ban, a Virginia Attorney General Opinion was requested on behalf of a member of the House of Delegates. The then Attorney General Mary Sue Terry erroneously relied on the now discredited work of A.E. Dick Howard’s Commentaries on the Constitution of Virginia, where he states that there is no individual right to keep and bear arms either under Virgina’s Constitution or the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment as it was only a collective right. The 1993 opinion, Op. Va. Att’y Gen. (1993), can be read here :

  2. As ever, liberals trying to control other people and tell them what they “need.” Modern leftists simply do not have the moral capacity to understand what true freedom really is; to them, liberty is something that gives them the freedom to control everyone else.

  3. I see one problem with your point by point retort of the article.

    “Never argue with idiots, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

  4. deadly firearms are like Lay’s potato chips

    Like a fool, I’ve been buying non-deadly firearms, and now I find out that there’s another kind. Which means that I have to trade all of my regular guns for deadly guns. Thank goodness that I can buy more than one at a time, so it shouldn’t take too long. Otherwise I’d be up a creek without a rifle.

    A couple of years ago, I went to my fave gun dealer to buy a couple of handguns, one for me and one for she. We filled out two 4473s (one for each of us) and I paid for both. The clerk said that I couldn’t do that because it would be a straw purchase. It took me about fifteen minutes to straighten him out. When dealers can’t figure out the law, things have gotten reeeeeeely stoopid.

  5. I read over your piece, and I like the several statistical sources you listed.

    However, you made a few logical errors in your analysis.

    The first one is the BoJ study. Yes it lists only 2% of guns coming from gun shows and flea markets, and about 40% from illegal sources. However, how did these illegal suppliers acquire their guns? You might assume it was only from theft, but any straw purchaser is also an illegal source, and they could easily have criminal records which would prevent purchases from gun shops.

    And you made a common mistake about New York City and New York State. While it is virtually impossible to legally purchase any kind of gun in NYC, the farther you travel away from the major cities like Buffalo and Albany, the easier it becomes to buy a gun.

    Finally, this is strictly a personal observation, but your logic of comparing two incongruous examples, like buying a handgun and going to church, is specious at best.

  6. The 30 day rule is a major,major pita. Might as well not go to the gun show or an estate sale because you can’t buy by the lot. Even special orders are a pain since you have to pay and fill out your 4473 at the time of purchase so you can’t order one and buy one from stock at the same time even if you take delivery of your order more than 31 days later. If a bargain shows up on consignment somewhere you just have to add it to your queue,and wait months to get a product you’ve already paid for.

  7. “Gun control? It’s the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters,” Gravano said. “I want you to have nothing. If I’m a bad guy, I’m always gonna have a gun.”

    My real thoughts on Gun Control as well. Worthless legislation that bones the legitimate citizen.

  8. This silly law was never a big deal, if you’re buying multiple handguns a month I assume you’ve got a CCW permit.

  9. This Virginian is celebrating by buying a Colt Mustang on Thursday, right before my S&W 640 comes in on Friday. God bless the Commonwealth.

  10. Law was asinine. It didn’t apply to CCW holders, but i never have the money to more than one in any given 30 day window.

  11. So how come not ONE of Virginia’s 100 county sheriffs has jointed the growing chorus of sheriffs who say they will defy federal gun confiscators, by arrest, if need be?

    I am a Virginian by birth, but noted that all 33 New Mexico sheriffs (I lived there 2006-2011) did so right out of the gate, so to speak.

    Where are the Old Dominion’s sheriffs on this issue?

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