Virginians Closer to Becoming Arms Dealers … or Not

Gun buyback bill almost headed to Va. governor

RICHMOND, Va. -- A bill to require localities to sell the guns they collect in buyback programs to licensed dealers passed the General Assembly Tuesday.  But just like that, things were put on hold.

The Senate passed Del. Mark Cole's bill 21-18 on Tuesday without debate. An hour later, Sen. Kenneth Stolle asked that the vote be reconsidered so he could amend the bill to allow the guns to be disposed of "in any other appropriate manner."

After the bill was changed, senators put off voting on it until later in the week. 

The original bill required localities to pass an ordinance in order to hold a buyback program. All weapons, except machine guns or sawed-off shotguns, then had to be offered for sale to licensed gun dealers.

Opponents say the bill defies the point of the buyback program, where gunowners turn over their unwanted weapons in exchange for something of value, usually gift cards donated from local stores.

Cole has said it would provide money for cash-strapped localities and police departments.

Last Wednesday the Virginia Shooting Sports Association urged people to contact a Republican Senator who they said claimed to be pro-gun but voted against the bill in committee.

"Remind Senator (Fred) Quayle that there is no evidence that gun buy-backs reduce crime," the VSSA said on its blog. "Also, some of the guns turned in may have value higher than the locality paid to acquire it and in these tight budgetary times it makes since that the guns acquired through buy-back programs be sold to licensed dealers instead of destroyed." had a different take on the buyback bill, claiming that "some Virginia lawmakers love guns so much that it breaks their hearts to see one abandoned and destroyed."

The site said nothing prevents localities from auctioning or selling the guns now, but they don't because it is not worth the time or the cost.

"Oh, and because the whole point of buying the guns back is to get them off the street," the site said.

The bill, had it have passed cleanly, would have headed to Gov. Tim Kaine for his signature. But that's now on hold pending the Senate's next move.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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