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,"
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,
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
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
No motive has been established for his rampage.