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Firearms legislation resulting in emails

January 27, 2012
Delegate John Doyle , Shepherdstown Chronicle

Each year for the past several (I can't remember how many - it's at least a half dozen) I've introduced a bill that would limit gun purchases to one per month.

This law has been on the books in Virginia for about a dozen years. It's purpose is to stop the practice by some folks from northeastern cities of coming to Virginia and buying guns by the dozens to take back home to sell to people whose only desire for them is to kill other people. Since Virginia passed that law we in West Virginia have seen an increase in the number of people who travel from the urban north to buy guns by the dozen here. I think we need to stop this.

After many talks with representatives of the National Rifle Association (NRA,) I decided I would water the bill down. This year I introduced it as a two gun per month limit. I've told them I would be amenable to relaxing the limit even more (three per month, one per week, whatever). I introduced the loosened version this year as evidence of my bonafides on this.

What was the NRA's reaction? After pretty much ignoring my bill in previous years they this year have made a big hairy deal out of it. Members of the Legislature are getting hundreds of emails telling them to drop everything and stop this bill, as it apparently represents a threat to the very existence of western civilization.

Now, anybody who follows the West Virginia Legislature and/or West Virginia politics knows that this bill has as much chance of passing as a bag of ice on a sidewalk at noon in San Juan in July has of staying frozen all day. I can only surmise that the NRA cannot find any other bill with which it can alarm its members enough to get them to keep their membership dues coming. I'm a combat veteran of Vietnam, and I'm proud of my service to our country. I became quite familiar with the M-16 rifle during that time and I regularly wear the combat infantry badge on my lapel. I would never want to do anything to disrupt legitimate gun use, be it hunting, target practice, gun collection or whatever.

The NRA is telling its members that my bill is unconstitutional. I know that because its members are emailing me that the NRA is telling them that. Again, the one gun per month law has been on the books in Virginia for about a dozen years. One would think that by now some court would have struck it down were it really unconstitutional. This has not happened.

No right is absolute. Not even the most important right, freedom of speech (the first right mentioned in the First Amendment to the Constitution) is absolute. One cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater unless there is actually a fire. Every right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is subject to reasonable regulation. The debate is over what regulations are reasonable.

I'm sorry that my colleagues are being unreasonably assaulted with unnecessary emails over this issue. I think limiting the number of guns one can purchase to a small enough number that folks won't travel hundreds of miles to buy them is reasonable. I think the NRA is being unreasonable.

 
 
 

 

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