The Virginia Senate voted Monday to lift the state’s one-per-month limit on handgun purchases, eliminating a 19-year-old cap that critics called outdated but gun-control activists credited with tamping down weapons trafficking.
Pro-gun lawmakers have tried for years to eliminate the cap, imposed in 1993 under Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder to curb gun trafficking.
Bills to remove the limit have passed the Republican-dominated House before. But they always died in Senate committees and subcommittees when Democrats and moderate Republicans controlled the upper chamber.
After taking control of the evenly divided chamber last month, a more conservative group of GOP Senators got the gun bill out of committee and to a full floor vote during the General Assembly session that started last month.
Eliminating the one-gun-per-month limit has been a priority of Richmond’s gun lobby, which has had mixed success so far this year.
A Senate committee in January killed a bill that would have done away with state background checks and another that would have prevented colleges from banning firearms on campus.
Gun-rights advocates had suggested that armed students and faculty members could have curtailed the loss of life at Virginia Tech in 2007, when a shooter killed 32 people before taking his own life. Relatives of some Virginia Tech victims as well as law enforcement from several colleges opposed the measure, saying it was unlikely that armed civilians could have been able to save lives.
Pro-gun groups continue to push a measure to allow college professors to carry concealed weapons on campus.
The House passed a bill Thursday to allow city, town and county employees to store firearms and ammunition in personal cars parked at work. Some localities prohibit employees from doing so. Under the bill, the guns must be inside a container and the vehicle must be locked. Opponents noted that the legislation does not require that the container itself be locked or that ammunition be stored out of sight.
Del. Brenda L. Pogge (R-York) said the measure would not apply to school parking lots, but she conceded that it would apply to lots at child-care centers, recreation centers and parks run by localities. The bill applies only to the parking lots, not the facilities themselves.