A total of 1,102 people were denied handguns in Virginia in July, following the implementation of a new law that prohibits more than one pistol purchase per 30 days.
Roughly 59% of Virginia’s 1,877 total firearm denials were attributed to confusion about exactly when the first 30-day period began, according to data obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The policy, which Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law in April along with other gun regulations, took effect on July 1. However, the state had been tracking handgun purchases since June, the Dispatch reported.
“It was confusing,” Town Gun Shop Inc. President Mark Tosh told the local outlet. “I think it caught a lot of people off guard, because everybody thought, okay July 1, and now the clock starts ticking if you buy a handgun. If I buy one July 1, then by Aug. 2, I should be fine [to buy another].”
He continued, “But nobody knew they were going to go back into June. I think that’s why you saw so many denials.”
Other gun control laws pushed by Northam included universal background checks, a red flag confiscation bill and a host of storage laws. The one-per-month regulation is a reinstatement of a former ordinance passed originally in 1993 to prevent firearm stockpiling and dissuade gun trafficking, according to a press release.
The owner of Trader Jerry’s, one of Virginia’s largest federally licensed firearms dealers, Jerry Cochran, alleged the state concealed that the law was “retroactive.”
“They made it retroactive and did not tell us. That’s the deal,” Cochran told the Dispatch. “We had no idea. We could have asked [customers] if they had purchased a gun in June. The law does say 30 days, but everybody would have naturally assumed that it started July 1 — we all did.”
He continued, “Nobody would have assumed that if you bought one on June 30 … that you couldn’t buy one on July 1.”
A total of 282 people in Virginia were denied firearms purchases for having a felony or drug conviction, about one-fifth of the amount of those denied under the new law, according to the local outlet.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said, “The plain language of the legislation on the new 30-day limitation on handgun purchases prohibits someone from purchasing a handgun after June 30, 2020, if that same individual also bought one within the previous 30 days — unless the purchaser is covered by an exemption to this statute,” according to the local outlet.
But the owner of Bob’s Gun Shop, Robert Marcus, said, “The vast majority of people … think that means you can buy a gun on June 30, and then buy another on July 2, because it’s one gun a month,” according to the Dispatch.
“But the law is actually ‘one handgun in a 30-day period’,” he added. “And it’s not even 30 days, because you have to wait an additional day if the month preceding it had 30 days.”
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