Happening today: Tech families asking Congress for gun show checks
By Julian Walker | The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot
WASHINGTON -- Family members of those wounded and killed in the April 2007
Virginia Tech shootings during a Capitol Hill event today will continue to
push for a law change requiring criminal background checks before certain
firearms transactions are completed at gun shows.
A forum about closing the gun show loophole is scheduled to be held in the
U.S. House Judiciary Committee room this afternoon.
The so-called loophole is a wrinkle in state law that requires licensed gun
dealers to run a criminal history check before selling a gun, but doesn't hold
private sellers to that standard.
Efforts to change the law to mandate background checks before private guns
sale are completed have repeatedly failed to pass the General Assembly.
Tech families and others of their ilk argue that lax gun laws lead to
violence; Gun rights advocates disagree, noting that Tech gunman Seung Hui Cho
did not obtain the weapons he used to slaughter 32 people at a gun show.
On the eve of today's forum, Tech families and the Brady Campaign to Prevent
Gun Violence issued the following statement:
The families of the victims, the survivors and their families would all like
to thank Congressman Bobby Scott for his leadership on this critical public
After the massacre at Virginia Tech, Governor Kaine created the Virginia Tech
Review Panel comprised of eight nationally recognized and respected
individuals with a wide variety of expertise The panel eventually produced an
extensive report which included 81 specific recommendations covering: improved
laws, policies, procedures, systems and institutions of the Commonwealth of
Virginia and the operation of public safety agencies, medical facilities,
local agencies, private providers, universities and mental health delivery
>From the beginning we, the families of the victims, the survivors and their
families, gave our support to the panel members and, after the report was
presented, to the agencies and legislators charged with implementing the
recommended changes. Virtually all of the recommendations were acted upon with
one glaring exception, that being: "Virginia should require background checks
for all firearm sales, including those at gun shows."
The panel recognized the importance of limiting the ease of access to firearms
for people that have been judged to be a danger to themselves or others due to
severe mental illness. They also recognized that any improvements in the
procedures that identified individuals prohibited from buying firearms due to
mental illness through the NICS background check system, would be totally
ineffective if some types of commercial firearm sales are allowed to continue
to circumvent the background check system. Gun shows are one of the most
popular public venues where firearms can be sold or exchanged between total
strangers without the need for a background check on the purchaser.
Virginia has yet to close this "Gunshow Loophole," however, this problem is
not limited to the confines of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but rather
extends across all 37 states still allow the public sale of firearms without a
Background checks on purchasers attempting to buy firearms from licensed
dealers have prevented 1.8 million ineligible sales over the years that the
Brady law has been in effect. The vast majority of background checks currently
take less than a few minutes to complete and present no obstacle to eligible
We know from firsthand experience the pain and devastation that can result
when a person prohibited by law from owning or possessing firearms can
nevertheless gain easy access to them and use them to maim and kill. That is
why we are asking the Federal Government to step in and enact legislation to
make it more difficult for dangerous people to obtain dangerous weapons.