On Politics

Coverage of Virginia politics and the 2014 election.

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Doug Wilder on one-gun-a-month (but mum on the slavery museum)

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced today that he has signed the bill that repeals Virginia’s nearly 20-year ban on buying more than one handgun a month.

McDonnell and other supporters of the measure have argued that the faster background checks done now on gun purchasers make the limitation unnecessary, and that the existing law exempted a lot of people already, including law enforcement and concealed carry permit holders.

So what does former governor Doug Wilder, who oversaw the original passage of one-handgun-a-month when he was governor, think about that?

“It is so ridiculous that I don’t comment,” Wilder said Tuesday of the arguments about background checks and exemptions.

Wilder spoke to reporters in the General Assembly Building, where he’d used a TV studio to appear on Fox News, talking about the presidential race.

Wilder said the ban on buying more than one gun a month was put in place because Virginia was a source of guns for gun runners.

But he said all the questioning about how he feels about the law now being repealed is misplaced.

“It was not a major victory for me, it was a victory for Virginians,” Wilder said. The discussion shouldn’t be about him he added, but about how the repeal will affect Virginians.

He said they’ve made their own opinions clear.

“They spoke then, they spoke recently,” Wilder said, apparently referring to a poll last week by the Times Dispatch and Christopher Newport University that found 66 percent of respondents would rather see the gun restriction stay in place.

Asked if he had spoken to McDonnell about the topic, Wilder said no, although he said the governor’s office had called before he came to do his TV appearance.

In other news, Wilder’s U.S. National Slavery Museum is due back in federal bankruptcy court on Wednesday for a scheduled status hearing.

Asked if he had any comment on that, Wilder said no.

“I’ve made absolutely no statements and I don’t intend to,” Wilder said.