RICHMOND, JUNE 10 -- Virginia gun-control advocates and opponents skirmished today as members of the State Crime Commission broadened a special gun-control study to include mandatory waiting periods before handgun sales.

"Most everything is going to be a matter of dispute," state Del. Clifton A. Woodrum (D-Roanoke) declared as he opened what is scheduled to be a lengthy and politically sensitive review of state gun laws and legislative proposals.

Woodrum's crime commission subcommittee convened today at the request of Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, who in March called for a two-pronged study of the "extraordinary threats" posed by new armor-piercing ammunition and plastic firearms that metal detectors cannot pick up.

Baliles had issued the request two days after he signed legislation that bars localities from adopting gun-control ordinances unless specifically authorized by the legislature.

Although some legislators believe the political climate in Virginia is generally hostile to more stringent gun control, several subcommittee members today moved to expand Baliles' mandate and consider an array of tougher firearm regulations.

Prodded by panel member Del. Warren G. Stambaugh (D-Arlington) and several police spokesmen, the subcommittee agreed to study proposals for seven-day waiting periods before the final sale of handguns so police can check a buyer's possible criminal record, a range of stiff new penalties for crimes involving firearms or the carrying of concealed weapons, and methods for tracking lost or stolen guns.

"The notion of having somebody run a criminal background check {before handgun sales} makes sense," said Stambaugh.

Raymond W. Cahen, representing the Virginia State Rifle and Revolver Association, disagreed and suggested that background checks would do little to keep guns out of the hands of determined criminals. At the time of his arrest, presidential assailant John W. Hinckley Jr. owned a firearm that he had obtained in California after waiting for it several days as required by state law, Cahen told the subcommittee.

But Bob Walker, executive director of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police, noted that Hinckley also managed to purchase a gun from a Dallas shop "without any questions regarding his sanity or background."

"We don't have control over the factors police should have control over," Walker said. "There's no check and balance."

The subcommittee is scheduled to hold at least one public hearing on gun-control proposals this summer and will report its recommendations to the full crime commission by October, in time for the 1988 session of the legislature.