VIRGINIA'S STATUS as the go-to state for criminals shopping for illegal guns has been reaffirmed once again.
An investigation by Post reporters painstakingly chronicled the swift and terrible path of destruction wrought by one gun sold in Virginia on the streets of the District. Within a week of its purchase from a Manassas gun shop, the Glock 17 (serial number CME244) was used in a firefight in Southwest. It then changed hands several times. The sobering tally: a dozen criminal acts in a dozen weeks.
Even more sobering, though, is that it wasn't the only purchase that month by two men out to profit from illegal gun sales. Thanks to Virginia's lax laws, they went on a shopping spree, visiting five gun dealers in one month and spending more than $3,500 on a dozen guns. "Sometimes they bought two at a time. Sometimes they doubled back to a store within days," Post reporters wrote of the August 2014 purchases. Of those 12 guns, six are still on the loose.
Virginia had a law on the books for 19 years limiting handgun purchases to one a month, but — despite its effectiveness in curbing the illicit gun trade and appeals from families who lost loved ones in the Virginia Tech mass shooting — it was repealed in 2012 by the Republican-controlled legislature and then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R). Efforts to reinstate this sensible limit have failed, and Virginia is once again one of the largest suppliers of crime guns on the East Coast. Among those paying the price are the people of the District of Columbia. People such as Thurman Stallings, the off-duty D.C. detective who was shot several times by a man armed with that Glock 17 , had to learn to walk again and is still working to return to full duty. "I saw the gun staring at me," he said, and he believes there would have been a different, more tragic outcome if someone without his police training had been confronted.
Polls have shown nearly two-thirds of Virginians support a return to restrictions on handgun purchases. Really, what need is there for more than one a month? The election as governor of Ralph Northam (D), who campaigned for stronger gun laws in the face of fierce opposition from the gun lobby, and the increased numbers of Democrats in the upcoming General Assembly ought to build momentum for legislation that reimposes the one- a-month purchase limit.