Gun-Rights Groups Launch 11th Hour Bid To Block Virginia's One-Gun-A-Month Law

Gun control law will take effect on July 1

Virginia governor Ralph Northam
Virginia governor Ralph Northam / Getty Images
June 16, 2020

A coalition of gun-rights groups has filed a last-minute bid to prevent Virginia from implementing monthly limits on gun purchases.

On July 1, Virginia will prohibit residents from buying more than one gun per month unless they are law enforcement or hold a valid gun-carry license. The measure serves as a key part of the gun-control package that Democrats passed after taking control of the Virginia legislature, but Second Amendment advocates say it violates the state constitution, as well as federal gun rights. The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), Gun Owners of America, and Gun Owners Foundation filed suit in the Virginia circuit court for the county of Goochland to prevent the law from taking effect.

"We don't ration any other constitutional rights," Philip Van Cleave, president of the VCDL, told the Washington Free Beacon. "We don't say, 'Well, you can only go to church once a week. You can only read one newspaper a month.' We don't do any of that. We don't ration our rights."

Democrats won both houses of the state legislature in 2019 with major backing from Michael Bloomberg and gun-control groups. The new majority's push for major gun-control legislation, however, sparked major pushback from local governments. All but 4 of Virginia's 95 counties declared themselves "Second Amendment Sanctuaries," pledging not to enforce certain gun bans they believe to be unconstitutional. The opposition movement culminated in a massive January protest in Richmond organized by the VCDL.

Gun-rights activists succeeded in stopping an attempt by some Democrats to ban and confiscate guns like the AR-15, but Democrats passed a gun-control package that Governor Ralph Northam (D.) signed in April. The battle over gun rights has now moved to the courtroom.

The enforcement of the one-gun-per-month policy is most troubling because it would require state tracking policies at odds with gun rights, according to Gun Owners of America. The group's spokesman, Erich Pratt, said Northam's measures are similar to gun-control laws that were repealed in 2012. The policies have only become more "radical" even as crime rates have dropped in Virginia.

"The enforcement of this law is problematic, as it necessitates a backdoor gun registry," Pratt said in a statement. "The radical push for gun control has nothing to do with reducing crime, but rather is about implementing a disarmament agenda."

Neither Governor Northam nor state attorney general Mark Herring (D.) responded to requests for comment.

The case is scheduled to go before a state court judge on June 26.