Virginia Republicans Target State Gun Laws As Legislature Gets Ready To Reconvene

WASHINGTON -- Will Virginia do away with its state background checks for gun purchases? Will state lawmakers repeal a ban on purchasing more than one handgun per month?

With Republicans in control of the state Capitol, gun-rights advocates may have their way on a number of legislative priorities when lawmakers reconvene in Richmond on Jan. 12.

As the Examiner reported last month, "[p]ro-gun Republicans in Virginia said they will press ahead with efforts to undo the state's gun laws" during the upcoming legislative session:

Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, filed a bill ... that bars localities from offering incentives to gun owners to surrender their firearms and another banning clerks from releasing the names of individuals who have permits to carry concealed handguns.

The big legislative prize for gun-rights advocates would be eliminating the state's ban on buying more than one handgun per month, a law championed by then-Gov. Douglas Wilder (D) when it was passed in 1993.

When he was a state legislator, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) supported the state's one-gun-per-month law but changed his tune during the 2009 race for the governor's mansion.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released last month, 62 percent of those surveyed opposed repealing the state's one-handgun-per-month law.

McDonnell, an oft-mentioned potential vice presidential nominee, has also signaled his desire to eliminate the state's background check for gun purchases, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Gun-rights advocates contend the state's 22-year-old background check is burdensome and overlaps with federal background checks.

As The Virginian-Pilot reported Monday:

While there is much overlap between the two programs, state police officials have cautioned that current gun restrictions unique to Virginia might not block a sale if the federal system were the only screening method in place.

McDonnell's administration is evaluating "whether there's a way to ensure that all of the state restrictions could be included in a national check," according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Virginia law currently places tight restrictions on access to juvenile criminal records, information that often does not turn up on federal background checks.