Guns n’ Taxes

March 17, 2008 | | Comments Off on Guns n’ Taxes

After stumbling on a recent news story about concealed weapons in restaurants, I decided to do a little digging on Virginia’s gun control laws. On March 4, Governor Kaine vetoed a Virginia state bill that would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol. Currently, it is only legal to carry a concealed weapon in an alcohol-free restaurant in Virginia. I did not know that it was legal to carry concealed guns into restaurants at all, and this got me wondering about Virginia’s other gun regulations.

If I wanted to, could I buy a gun and carry it into a restaurant today? To buy a rifle or a shotgun here, I would have to be at least 18 years old. To buy a handgun from a licensed firearms dealer, I have to be 21 years old. Check. I can buy a rifle, a shotgun, or a handgun. Since it would be pretty hard to conceal a rifle or shotgun before walking into my hypothetical restaurant, we’ll assume I’m buying a handgun. Because I’m in Virginia, I don’t have to register the gun. Virginia gun-owners only have to register machine guns. Interesting. How about this: what If I want more than one gun? Since I probably can’t conceal a rifle or shotgun, and I can’t get a machine gun without registering it, can I buy more than one handgun at a time? No, I have to wait 30 days between handgun purchases. What if I want to carry my new handgun other places? How about into church? I can carry my gun into a place of worship in Virginia, but only if I have a “good and sufficient reason.” This is only a sampling of some of Virginia’s gun regulations. As a non-gun owner, I found it enlightening to peruse the state’s concealed weapon code.

Many competent gun owners will tell you they feel safer with their concealed weapons. I even know a woman in another state who brings her gun to church regularly. However, the potential harm of carrying a concealed weapon into an establishment that serves alcohol seems to vastly outweigh the potential benefits. In 2005, there were 12,000 reported homicides by gun in the United states, and nearly 53,000 emergency room visits involving gun shot wounds. These numbers may seem small compared to the total U.S. population, but think about this: A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1999 concluded that gunshot injuries in the United States in 1994 produced $2.3 billion in lifetime medical costs. Guess who pays a lot of those costs? Taxpayers. We paid approximately half that $2.3 billion through Medicaid, Medicare, worker’s compensation, and other government programs. Not only does Governor Kaine’s veto of concealed weapon bill promote the safety of police officers and late night bar patrons, it might also save us all some money. April 15 is coming fast.

Flickr photo courtesy of user Travis Nicholson! 


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