- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2010

Virginia finally is poised to repeal its unusual law that prohibits law-abiding citizens from buying more than one gun per month. It’s about time, because the red tape has not had the desired effect in lowering crime. There is no academic research by criminologists or economists that shows that one-gun-a-month regulations reduce crime in either the states that pass them or their neighbors. The laws have merely inconvenienced honest Americans who want to buy guns.

Besides Virginia, only Maryland, California and New Jersey still have these laws. South Carolina was the first state to adopt the restrictions in 1976 but repealed the limit in 2004. New Jersey has had the law on the books for less than two months now.

Contrary to the nanny-state notion that gun control is good, gun limitations are actually harmful. The book “The Bias Against Guns” shows that one-gun-a-month rules significantly reduce the number of gun shows, because they reduce the number of sales that can occur. For the same reason, it’s likely the regulation reduces the number of gun dealers. The reduction in legal sources to buy guns can raise the cost of law-abiding citizens buying guns relative to criminals, and thus disarm good people relative to criminals. The book “More Guns, Less Crime,” the only peer-reviewed research on one-gun-a-month restrictions, from the University of Chicago Press, shows the laws either have no effect or a detrimental effect on violent crime.

The Brady Campaign claims that Virginia’s one-gun-a-month law reduced the number of crime guns traced to Virginia dealers, but it provides no link to crime rates, which is ultimately the bottom line. If people around the nation’s capital should understand anything, it is how hard it is to keep criminals from getting guns. The District of Columbia banned handguns entirely, and murder rates still soared. Criminals got ahold of guns despite the law, because by nature they don’t care about breaking laws, and they can’t buy guns legally anyway. The question ought to be focused on whom these laws prevent from getting guns, and the evidence is that law-abiding citizens are the ones who are stopped.

One-gun-a-month rules are similar to gun bans and waiting periods, which tend to disarm victims relative to criminals, and therefore, increase crime. If possible, it’s a good idea to keep guns from criminals, but laws that make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to get guns relative to criminals cause more harm than good. In the case of the right to keep and bear arms, safety and freedom go together.

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