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2297Virginia Governor Closes Gun Loophole

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  • Greg Cannon
    Apr 30, 2007
    • 0 Attachment

      Virginia Governor Closes Gun Loophole

      Apr 30, 4:50 PM (ET)

      By BOB LEWIS

      RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The governor on Monday closed the
      loophole in state law that allowed the Virginia Tech
      gunman to buy weapons despite a court ruling that he
      was a threat and needed psychiatric counseling.

      Gov. Timothy M. Kaine issued an executive order
      requiring that a database of people banned from buying
      guns include the name of anyone who is found to be
      dangerous and ordered to get involuntary mental health

      Seung-Hui Cho was told to get counseling in 2005 after
      a judge ruled that he was a danger to himself.

      But because Cho was treated as an outpatient and never
      committed to a mental health hospital, the court's
      decision was not entered into the database, which gun
      dealers must check before selling a weapon.

      "Whether that treatment is to be provided in an
      inpatient or outpatient facility is of no moment,"
      Kaine said.

      Cho did not disclose his mental health problems or the
      court-ordered treatment in a form he completed before
      buying the guns.

      "His lie on the form would have been caught" had the
      order been in place before Cho tried to buy the guns,
      Kaine said.

      But it would not prevent Cho from acquiring guns by
      several other means that require no background check
      in Virginia, including buy-and-trade publications,
      individual transactions among gun collectors or
      hobbyists, and gun shows - vast firearms bazaars where
      scores of people sell or swap firearms.

      Legislation that would also subject firearms sales at
      gun shows to instant background checks is introduced
      annually in Virginia, and just as often it dies
      without reaching a floor vote in the General Assembly.

      Kaine, a Democrat, has said that he expects new
      support for the legislation this year and that he
      would support it, as he has in the past.

      The executive order does not apply to people who seek
      mental health care of their own will. After the report
      is added to Virginia's state police database, it
      becomes part of a federal database that gun dealers
      nationwide use.

      Virginia has supplied more than 80,000 mental health
      records to the federal database. Twenty-eight states
      do not supply any records, either because they lack
      the technical ability or are barred by privacy laws.

      Cho, a 23-year-old Virginia Tech senior described as a
      troubled loner, bought his guns legally through gun
      shops before gunning down 32 people on campus, then
      killing himself.

      No motive has been established for his rampage.