Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) wants the state's legislature to adopt a bill forbidding citizens from purchasing more than one gun per month.
McAuliffe submitted the proposal, which includes punishments of up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine, as an amendment to an unrelated, Republican-backed gun bill that would have prevented other states from obtaining information about concealed-handgun permit holders in Virginia. The "one-gun-a-month" proposal is a throwback to a law enacted under Democratic Gov. L. Douglas Wilder in 1993. The was repealed by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell (R.) in 2012. Virginia Democrats and gun control activists have worked to reinstate the law since then.
McAuliffe argued that the rule should be reinstated to prevent criminals in other states from ending up with guns that were purchased in Virginia.
"One-Handgun-a-Month was enacted almost a quarter century ago to counter Virginia's shameful reputation as the gun-running capital of the East Coast," McAuliffe said in a statement about the amendment. "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."
He pointed to recent arrests in a gun-trafficking ring that illegally sold guns to criminals in New York City.
"The 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, highlights the need to restore One-Handgun-a-Month," he said.
He then related a quote from suspect Antwan Walker. Regarding purchasing firearms, Walker told undercover police, "I can do that Monday through Friday," according to the Associated Press. He went on to say, "they might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away." Walker was arrested for multiple crimes associated with trafficking guns to criminals in other states.
Gun rights activists criticized the governor's attempt to reinstate the rule as "political theater."
"What does ‘One–Handgun–a–Month' have to do with not sharing CHP holder information with hostile states?" Philip Van Cleave said in an email to supporters. "Nothing, of course. As far as gun traces out of Virginia, nothing changed when we got rid of One-Handgun-a-Month and nothing would change if we reinstated it. It is nothing but political theater."
"Unfortunately, McAuliffe seems to be far more interested in appeasing the anti-gun politicians in his home state of New York than he does protecting law-abiding Virginians."
The effort to revive the rule comes on the heels of Governor McAuliffe's veto of a bill that would have allowed individuals with protective orders to temporarily carry concealed guns without a permit.
McAuliffe has advocated implementing new gun control measures since he was elected in 2014. He has failed to implement most of his gun control initiatives due to opposition from Republican lawmakers who control both houses in the Virginia legislature. The one-gun-a-month policy is unlikely to be adopted for the same reasons.
"Governor McAuliffe continues to push for failed gun control schemes from the past. At a time when lawmakers all across the country are enacting laws to restore our Second Amendment freedoms, McAuliffe is jarringly out-of-step. Everywhere it’s been imposed, the one-gun-a-month rule has failed to reduce crime or make people safer," said Catherine Mortensen, a spokesperson for the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. "McAuliffe is out-of-touch with law-abiding Virginians who simply want to protect and defend themselves"
Update 5:16 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.