February 22, 2012 - 2:23 pm

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

As one version of legislation to repeal the state’s one-handgun-a-month law awaits Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature, the state’s House of Delegates passed another one Wednesday.

The chamber voted 64-32 to approve Senate Bill 323, sponsored by Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr., R-Grayson.

Both measures would lift the state’s 18-year-old ban on the sale of more than one handgun each month, a signature achievement of former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder’s administration.

The law was designed to stifle the flow of handguns from Virginia to major cities along the East Coast.

Republicans claim that the law is outdated now as Virginia’s crime rate has dipped significantly and controls on gun sales have improved.  

Del. Patrick A. Hope, D-Arlington, said he feared the state would return to its status of the “gun-running capital of the nation.”  

He added: “This bill has consequences we can’t even imagine.”

Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, said Hope’s arguments were “based on a mythology” that criminal gun traffickers obtained guns lawfully.

He also noted that federal authorities are notified when an individual purchases more than one handgun in a short period of time.   

A recent Christopher Newport University/Richmond Times-Dispatch poll found that 66 percent of Virginians would prefer that the law remain in place while 31 percent support the repeal.

McDonnell has indicated that he will sign the bill.