Virginia’s Gift to Gunrunners

In 1993, Virginia enacted a one-per-month limit on gun purchases after a federal study showed that two out of five handguns taken from New York City crime scenes were purchased in Virginia’s freewheeling gun markets. Now the state seems determined to resume its destructive “iron pipeline” role. On Tuesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a law repealing the gun purchase limit.

Studies have shown the limit effectively cut into underground dealing. When he was in the Legislature, Mr. McDonnell, a Republican, supported it but campaigned for governor on a promise of repeal. According to Peter Read, one of the family members from the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre who talked and pleaded privately with the governor on Saturday to veto the repeal, Mr. McDonnell cited his “duty to protect the Second Amendment.”

So much for his duty to protect his citizens and those of other states.

The retreat means gunrunners can once again stock up in Virginia without inhibition and then deal guns in neighboring states where sales are more restricted. “Here we are watching kids dying in other states, and we’re going to be a purveyor of firearms for other states,” said Andrew Goddard, whose son was wounded in the Virginia Tech gun rampage that took 33 lives and wounded 25.

The public knows the dangers — and what is needed. Opinion polling in Virginia last month showed that 66 percent of residents were in favor of keeping gun sales limited. The politicians have other priorities. Gun control has been eroding nationally in the face of the gun lobby’s cash and political threats.

Both parties are in shameful retreat, despite repeated gun tragedies across the nation. In the latest, a teenager in Chardon, Ohio, shot fellow students on Monday. Three have died.