Gov. Bob McDonnell listened to input from victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shootings this weekend as he prepares to decide whether Virginians will be allowed to purchase more than one handgun in a month.
Families affected by the April 16, 2007, campus shootings spoke with McDonnell in hopes of stopping a bill that would repeal Virginia’s ban on purchasing more than one handgun per month through commercial sales. The repeal passed both houses of the General Assembly and would become law with McDonnell’s signature.
The ban was originally put in place in 1993 to curb Virginia’s role in gun trafficking.
Related: Staff editorial
Andrew Goddard, whose son Colin Goddard was injured in the shootings that left 32 people dead on Tech’s campus, said the repeal would be a step back for Virginia’s public safety laws.
“It’s a very bad idea, I think, to do away with the only piece of legislation we have that specifically targets gun-trafficking in a time when we’re almost back to the point we were when this bill was put in place,” he said.
Goddard, along with several other families that have been active in lobbying for increased gun control since the shootings, sent a letter to McDonnell asking to voice their opinion. McDonnell listened to their arguments Saturday and is expected to make a decision today. He has previously voiced an intention to approve the repeal as passed by the General Assembly.
Goddard pointed out a survey conducted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Christopher Newport University that found 66 percent of Virginians don’t want to repeal the one-handgun-per-month ban.
In a statement to the Collegiate Times, McDonnell’s office thanked the families for their concern but declined to comment on the bill.
"The governor appreciated hearing directly from the families on this issue. It was a straightforward and substantive discussion,” McDonnell press secretary Jeff Caldwell said in an e-mail. “His thoughts and prayers remain with them as they continue to deal with their tremendous loss. We will have further comment on the legislation at the appropriate time."
If McDonnell approves the repeal, Virginians would no longer be restricted to purchasing one handgun per month through commercial vendors. It is already possible to purchase multiple firearms per month through private sales — such as gun sale transactions or buying a firearm from a friend.
“Even if it’s not as effective as it could be — because there are ways around it — taking it away altogether isn’t going to make it any better,” Goddard said. “Anyone who has a legitimate reason for getting more than one handgun a month has ways to do that now.”
The repeal is one of many gun-related bills to come up in the General Assembly this year. The two bills related to college campuses — one that would allow professors to carry concealed weapons on campus and another that would have ended colleges’ power to ban firearms on campus — have not passed this session.