NRA: New York Wants Handguns to be Rationed in Virginia

Several pistols on display at a show

Whenever a politician or anti gunner proposes legislation and explains it as common sense, there is one thing you can be sure of, it is anything but common sense to gun owners or those who believe in the Second Amendment. Such is the case of the call from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for the enactment of a new one-handgun-a-month law to mimic a handgun rationing law that was repealed in 2012.

Politicians and government officials aren’t known for their willingness to accept responsibility. When faced with the blame for some social ill, they are quick to offer a scapegoat in order to avoid accountability. The tactic is often used to target gun owners or gun dealers—especially those from other states. When it comes to New York officials, their perpetual scapegoats are Virginia gun owners and gun dealers.

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Earlier this month, New York prosecutors announced the indictment of 24 individuals in connection to a gun-trafficking ring that allegedly smuggled roughly 200 firearms from Virginia to New York City.

The indictment makes clear that the alleged criminal conspiracy used non-prohibited individuals to acquire firearms from dealers, pursuant to a NICS background check. The document states, “members of the conspiracy directed straw purchasers to acquire specific types or models of firearms from Federal Firearms Licensed retailers (“FFL”), both from brick-and-mortar store locations and from gun shows.”

The alleged conspiracy’s method of obtaining firearms illustrates the futility of restrictions on the private transfer of firearms. NRA has long pointed out that the background check measures pushed by gun control advocates would do nothing to stop criminals from accessing firearms by these means. Moreover, a 2000 ATF report acknowledged that “[t]he most frequent type of trafficking channel identified in ATF investigations is straw purchasing from federally licensed firearms dealers. Nearly 50 percent…”

Rather than take the obvious lesson from this incident—criminals are not impeded by background checks—anti-gun officials have used this case to argue for the return of Virginia’s handgun rationing law.

In 1993, Governor Douglas Wilder signed a law limiting handgun purchases to one within any 30-day period. The law stood until 2012, when Governor Bob McDonnell signed legislation repealing the measure.

Unfortunately for Virginians, one of the New Yorkers blaming the Old Dominion for the Empire State’s problems occupies the commonwealth’s Executive Mansion. This week, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe—a native of Syracuse, N.Y. and staunch ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton—called for the enactment of a new one-handgun-a-month law. In doing so, McAuliffe stated in a press release “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.” Moreover, McAuliffe proposed an amendment that would resurrect the handgun rationing law to Senate Bill 1023, a bill intended to protect the privacy of Right-to-Carry permit holders.

As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, SB 1023’s sponsor, Sen. Richard H. Stuart did not appreciate the governor’s attempt to pervert his legislation. Stuart noted, “I also find it unfortunate that the governor chooses to place his priorities with New York City instead of the citizens of Virginia.”

McAuliffe’s contention that “Virginia is once again becoming the go-to state” for gun traffickers, is not supported by the available data.

Several pistols on display at a show

Each year the ATF’s Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information releases information on firearm trace data for each state. This includes a breakdown of the number of firearms recovered in a state that are traced to individual “source” states. The most recent data available is from 2015.

It is important to note that there are significant limitations to the usefulness of ATF firearms trace data. The data carries an important disclaimer explaining these limitations. Two points to remember in this context are that “Not all firearms used in crime are traced and not all firearms traced are used in crime,” and that, “Firearms are normally traced to the first retail seller, and sources reported for firearms traced do not necessarily represent the sources or methods by which firearms in general are acquired for use in crime.” However, the use of this data is popular with gun control supporters, and is often used to blame the gun laws of another state for crime problems in a state with restrictive gun controls.

If McAuliffe’s contention were correct, or Virginia’s handgun rationing law was an effective deterrent to interstate gun trafficking, it might be expected that the number of firearms recovered in New York and traced to Virginia would have dramatically increased following the repeal of the one-handgun-a-month law.

This is not the case.

Virginia’s handgun rationing law was repealed in 2012. That year, 458 firearms recovered in New York were traced to Virginia. Each of the three following years saw trace numbers lower than the 2012 total. Excluding 2012, as the law was removed during the year, in the three years prior to repeal (2009-11), a total of 1265 firearms recovered in New York were traced to Virginia. In the three years following repeal (2013-15), a total of 1259 New York recovered firearms were traced to Virginia.

When firearms recovered in New York and traced to Virginia are measured as a percentage of all traced firearms recovered in New York where the source state could be identified, there was not a dramatic increase in Virginia sourced firearms following the repeal of handgun rationing. From 2009 to 2015 the percentage of firearms recovered in New York and traced to Virginia hovered around 8-9 percent of the total. Further, the far and away most popular source for traced firearms recovered in New York has been and continues to be the Empire State itself.

Such handgun rationing measures also appear to have little public safety benefit. A recent paper by scholar Clayton E. Cramer examined murder rates in relation to the enactment and repeal of gun rationing statutes. Cramer concludes, “The evidence that one gun a month laws are effective at reducing murder rates is less than overwhelming,” adding, “Virginia’s experience after passage suggests that such laws do not reduce murder rates.”

In order to push their anti-gun agenda, McAuliffe and others have seized on an audio clip of one of the men indicted in the trafficking conspiracy. In a wiretap recording, alleged conspirator Antwan Walker can be heard saying, “I can go get 20 guns from the store tomorrow. I can do that Monday through Friday.” Virginia’s anti-gun Attorney General Mark Herring told the press, “When you’ve got gun runners on tape bragging about how weak our gun laws are it should be a pretty clear signal that something needs to change.” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez remarked to the New York Times, “When you hear a trafficker boasting about the weak gun laws in Virginia, it is crystal clear that this needs to be addressed.”

This repeated use of the alleged trafficker’s statement is misleading without the proper context. While law-abiding Virginian’s are free to purchase as many handguns as they choose, multiple handgun sales of the type contemplated on the wiretap are subject to strict federal reporting requirements.

4 Core Rifle Systems Core 15 AR-15s
Blaming the actions of a few criminals—who do not follow the law by definition—uses the same flawed reasoning as blaming the gun for the actions of the operator.

Federal law imposes a requirement on Federal Firearms Licensees to report the multiple sale of handguns made to an individual within five consecutive business days. Specifically, 18 U.S.C. § 923(g)(3)(A) states,

Each licensee shall prepare a report of multiple sales or other dispositions whenever the licensee sells or otherwise disposes of, at one time or during any five consecutive business days, two or more pistols, or revolvers, or any combination of pistols and revolvers totalling two or more, to an unlicensed person. The report shall be prepared on a form specified by the Attorney General and forwarded to the office specified thereon and to the department of State police or State law enforcement agency of the State or local law enforcement agency of the local jurisdiction in which the sale or other disposition took place, not later than the close of business on the day that the multiple sale or other disposition occurs.

So while gun control supporters might like to give the impression that the repeal of Virginia’s handgun rationing law has allowed criminals unfettered access to unlimited firearms, in truth, Congress has already provided for a method to monitor and curtail gun traffickers who purchase significant quantities of firearms. Walker and his alleged accomplices may not be aware of the finer points of federal gun law, but elected officials should be expected to apprise themselves of the facts in order to avoid misleading the public.

As noted earlier, in 2015 more New York recovered firearms were traced to the Empire State than any other. Given that this circumstance exists despite a gun control regime that operates at or beyond the limits of the U.S. Constitution, it is time for New York officials to reexamine their approach to combatting violent crime and abandon their long running campaign of harassment against gun owners.

Should Virginia go back to rationing handguns? How should calls such as this be stopped? Share your answers in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (11)

  1. Virginians should have realised, by now, that when you elect a Democrat political operative as governor; you can’t be surprised when you get a Democrat political operative instead of a governor.

  2. What would you expect from a deamoncrap governor. Virginia is slowly turning blue and the people need to put a stop to it before it’s too late.

  3. I say that we limit the Constitutional rights of these idiots that come up with these worthless and rediculous laws.
    How much backlash would there be if we limited let’s say any other constitutional right to once a month. Let’s start with the 3rd amendment… you can pick one day of the month that we won’t use your house as a barracks for the army… don’t like that one?
    Ok the 4th amendment… your consent to being searched, at home or in public, is only required for the first request, once they ask you the second time you must comply… don’t like that one? Hmm
    5th amendment… the government can try you for the same crime as many times as they feel needed even if you are found innocent every time… don’t like that one?
    6th amendment… you only get a lawyer once for the the above BS…. don’t like that one either? I feel a trend with you liberals Flakes
    7th amendment… you only get the option of a jury of your peers once…
    8th amendment bail the first time will be appropriate… after that it’s all about how much we need to make up our budget shortfalls… hurting your feelings yet snowflake?
    Well, let’s get back to the 1st amendment now, you can only say one stupid thing a month! Everything else must make sense… Oh crap I think I stumbled on to something here. If you liberal morons agree to limiting you expressions of your feelings to one day and one topic a month I will limit my right to purchase a fire arm to once a month….
    Naw on second thought, you keep crting and I’ll keep buying.
    I cannot understand why liberals always think criminals can be stopped by stealing my rights… law abiding citizens are not the problem, criminals are. Guess why they are criminals, because they break the law you Jeopardy Champion, now put them in jail when you catch them.

  4. Living in VA I can’t believer that the clown in Richmond is stupid enough to think this will fly. He’s like his buddy obozo and is trying to push a lot of crap through before they throw him out. Liberals have been trying to tear VA up for years.

  5. How absolute is each amendment? Just for saying disagreeable things I get banned from commenting on many forums. Where is my free speech? Most can not afford one gun per year, much less more than one a month. In the last 45 years I have only bought 6 firearms.

    These people are buying multiple firearms but not “keeping” them. You want to have an armory full of guns, fine, but immediately taking them out of state and reselling them can be restricted.

    1. Daddio7,
      The Bill of rights of the U.S. Constitution only applies to the Government
      A private individual, is free to prohibit guns on his property
      As a website owner, you are free to censor any speech you don’t like.
      You are free to violate the constitution in the privacy of your own home

  6. Anyone who would deny Constitutional Rights to an American citizen has forfeited any claim to any Constitutional Rights of their own.

  7. How do you suppose they’re going to enforce that rule with convicted felons that get some of their guns from law officers who they just murdered?
    Ain’t it odd they never have a workable solution for that?

  8. Virginians need to stand up to this governor but as usual the politician tacks the amendment onto another bill intended to help gun owners that if the residents of Virginia fought and won would be shooting themselves in the foot. “McAuliffe proposed an amendment that would resurrect the handgun rationing law to Senate Bill 1023, a bill intended to protect the privacy of Right-to-Carry permit holders.” This man knows exactly what he is doing and if the bill passes then he gets more repression of the constituents right to purchase arms.

  9. It would not matter if the guns confiscated from crimes in New York had zero percent from Virginia, a committed Communist like Terry McAuliffe would want to do everything he could be restrict, ban, confiscate and take guns from citizens. It is the same old saw from the anti-freedom crowd:

    – Guns are bad, take them away
    – Guns kill children all on their won, take them away
    – Guns are dangerous, they go off all by themselves, take them away
    – Guns levitate from where they sit, load themselves and shoot babies indiscriminately, take them away
    – Guns represent a low educational attainment citizenry, take them away
    – Even if more guns equal less crime, take them away, they’re bad
    – Even if citizens use them to hunt food, take them away, the wonderful, all powerful, State will feed you low brow, knuckle dragging hunters
    – Guns are killing our valuable stock of gang members, take them away or we won’t have enough gang members to blame everything else on
    – Gun makers are marketers of death, take all guns away and put all gun manufacturers in jail (except for the ones who supply our fearless State with their firearms as the all wonderful State needs protection from the low brow knuckle draggers

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