By Matthew A. Ward
PORTSMOUTH, Va (Reuters) - Virginia is set to remove a limit of one handgun purchase per month that has been on the books for 19 years, one of a host of pro-gun measures moving through the legislature.
The state Senate voted 21-19 to amend Virginia law to eliminate the prohibition that was enacted in 1993 in an effort to curb gun-smuggling operations.
The vote confirmed a version of the measure passed by the House of Delegates in a 66-32 vote earlier this month, and now sends it to Republican Governor Bob McDonnell's desk.
Governor spokesman Jeff Caldwell told Reuters that McDonnell plans to sign the bill into law.
The one-a-month limit on handgun purchases was enacted by former Democratic Governor Douglas Wilder at a time when Virginia had the reputation as a state where gunrunners could arrange to purchase a volume of weapons to sell on the streets of cities such New York.
One of the worst shootings in U.S. history took place at Virginia Tech University, where 32 people were killed in April 2007 by a mentally-deranged student. Another shooting there last year last year left a police officer dead.
Lawmakers who favor lifting the limit said doing so will bring Virginia into line with the majority of states. California, Maryland and New Jersey are the only others with such handgun purchasing limits, Republican Senator Charles Carrico Sr said during an earlier debate.
Opponents of the repeal worry about an increase in violence.
Other pro-gun measures the Virginia legislature is considering include removing localities' rights to require fingerprints for concealed handgun permits and prohibiting clerks of court from disclosing information contained in concealed handgun permit applications and permit-issuing orders.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)