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Va. congressman heads forum on gun show loophole

Videos of undercover gun buys, prepared statements from law enforcement officers, and wrenching testimony from victims of 1999 Columbine shootings and the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre played out at a Capitol Hill forum Wednesday on the closing the so-called gun show loophole.

It was standing room only in the Rayburn building for the meeting on the "Closing the Gun Show Loophole Act of 2009." But it was also as much about symbolism as lawmaking, because the gathering was a forum, and not a full-blown hearing.

Gun-rights groups, such as the NRA, did not bother to show up. Even backers conceded that the Democratic leadership's decision not to hold a hearing on the bill was a sign of the unlikelihood of the bill's passage in an election year.

Still, Paul Helmke, president and chief executive of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, said he welcomed it.

"We're just happy to have this," Helmke said during a break. "The fact that they're giving it this much attention is a positive step."

The proposed law, H.R.2324, would require all buyers to undergo a criminal background check before buying a firearm at a gun show. Federal law already requires all federally licensed firearms dealers to conduct a computerized background check on prospective buyers before selling a gun. Under existing federal law, and in many states, however, private sales between non-dealers do not require background checks, including transactions at gun shows. (State and federal laws only prohibit selling to known felons.)

Gun-rights advocates who oppose requiring background checks at gun shows have argued that the checks are not necessary because only a tiny fraction of guns have been traced from crimes to private sales at gun shows. They also argue that there is no such loophole because non-dealers can still sell or transfer a firearm without conducting a background check on a stranger they met through a want ad or in some other way.

Above all, they fear that requiring such checks at gun shows would clear the way to requiring universal background checks for every firearms transfer, whether between friends or family -- and ultimately, to de facto registration.

Virginia, whose General Assembly has fought over the gun show proposal for years, played a prominent role in Wednesday's hearing.

Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.) chaired the forum, and panelists included Gerald Massengill, former superintendent of the Virginia State Police, and Colin Goddard, a former Virginia Tech student who told of surviving four gunshots during the April 2007 mass shooting. Lori Haas, whose daughter also survived the Virginia Tech shooting, also attended.

Goddard told the panel his day started like an ordinary day for a college undergraduate until a gunman started shooting up a French class.

"The next 10 minutes of my life were the longest 10 minutes I ever experienced," Goddard said. He also talked about his work with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun
Violence in documenting the ease with which he could buy arms at gun shows.

In an undercover video taken at several gun shows, Goddard often warned the private buyers that he could not pass a background check, but the sellers sold him weapons anyway. Some just laughed.

One panel member, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), whose husband was killed in the Long Island Railroad shooting, acknowledged in an interview that the push for gun control has become more difficult since the Supreme Court's rulings effectively striking down gun bans in the District of Columbia and Chicago and recognizing a private right to own guns. But she said she would not relent, and on Wednesday filed a new gun control bill that would require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns to law enforcement.

"Some people will say, 'You're swimming upstream.' You know what? So I'm swimming upstream,'' McCarthy said. "But I can't let the NRA step all over this Congress."

-- Fredrick Kunkle

By Fredrick Kunkle  |  July 15, 2010; 9:19 AM ET
Categories:  Fredrick Kunkle , Virginia Tech massacre  
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Comments

Wonderful to see this Congress addressing a loophole that should have been closed over a decade ago after Columbine. Shameful that it still remains open in a modern, civilized democracy. Given that Republican pollster Frank Luntz just found that 69% of NRA members support closing the Gun Show Loophole, Democrats should show some spine (finally) and bring HR 2342 to the floor for a vote this session.

Posted by: gritsjr | July 15, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

If my memory serves me correctly neither the VA Tech or Colinbine shooters purchased there weapons from a individual at a gun show? So I an not sure what effect closing this so-called loophole would do. Espcially when you could still buy it from a individual in other locations.

Posted by: mharbourcpa | July 15, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Actually, all four guns used in the Columbine shootings were purchased through private sales at gun shows in Denver. Furthermore, Harris and Klebold were specifically aware of the Gun Show Loophole and planned to exploit it.

http://csgv2.blogspot.com/2009/11/point-of-no-return.html

As to your point about unregulated private sales occurring outside of gun shows, I don't see why that would comfort anyone, or why that would be reason not to address the loophole at the thousands of gun shows that occur annually. No single law cures all problems. The idea is to make it tougher for clearly dangerous individuals to get guns.

Posted by: gritsjr | July 15, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Josh Horwitz makes an appearance, albeit as his "alter ego" (some would say "sock puppet") gritsjr.

http://daysofourtrailers.blogspot.com/2010/04/executive-level-pusher-troll-you-make.html

I would imagine he used his alias so that it wouldn't be so obvious that he is basically linking to himself in support of his opinion.

Fail.

The fact is that The Columbine criminals got their guns through a straw purchase. The person who bought the guns for them was not a prohibited person and, so, could legally purchase the guns from anyone, anywhere. The fact that the straw purchaser chose a gun show to do so is irrelevant.

Virginia Tech also had nothing to do with gun shows.

In fact, in a recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the gun control crowd's own, Dr. Garen Wintemute, freely admitted that this is a non-issue:

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/NEJMp1006326

"In fact, there is no gun-show loophole as such. Federal law is silent on the issue of gun shows and permits private-party gun sales to occur anywhere."

"In addition, closing the alleged loophole would not necessarily reduce, by more than a small amount, the importance of gun shows as a source of guns used in crimes. Most sales at gun shows — more than 80%, according to unpublished data3 — are made by licensed retailers, not private parties, and data from gun-trafficking investigations indicate that two thirds of the guns used in crimes that have been linked to gun shows were sold by licensed retailers.2"

This is nothing more than a "feel-good, do-nothing" effort by partisan hacks hoping to beef up their anti-gun creds for their "progressive" voter base prior to November.

Posted by: Sailorcurt | July 15, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Josh Horwitz makes an appearance, albeit as his "alter ego" (some would say "sock puppet") gritsjr.

http://daysofourtrailers.blogspot.com/2010/04/executive-level-pusher-troll-you-make.html

I would imagine he used his alias so that it wouldn't be so obvious that he is basically linking to himself in support of his opinion.

Fail.

The fact is that The Columbine criminals got their guns through a straw purchase. The person who bought the guns for them was not a prohibited person and, so, could legally purchase the guns from anyone, anywhere. The fact that the straw purchaser chose a gun show to do so is irrelevant.

Virginia Tech also had nothing to do with gun shows.

In fact, in a recent paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the gun control crowd's own, Dr. Garen Wintemute, freely admitted that this is a non-issue:

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/NEJMp1006326

"In fact, there is no gun-show loophole as such. Federal law is silent on the issue of gun shows and permits private-party gun sales to occur anywhere."

"In addition, closing the alleged loophole would not necessarily reduce, by more than a small amount, the importance of gun shows as a source of guns used in crimes. Most sales at gun shows — more than 80%, according to unpublished data3 — are made by licensed retailers, not private parties, and data from gun-trafficking investigations indicate that two thirds of the guns used in crimes that have been linked to gun shows were sold by licensed retailers.2"

This is nothing more than a "feel-good, do-nothing" effort by partisan hacks hoping to beef up their anti-gun creds for their "progressive" voter base prior to November.

Posted by: Sailorcurt | July 15, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Apparently the NRA wants felons to have guns. All closing the loophole would do is have those selling guns at gunshows to do background checks. Licensed dealers must, why not gunshow sellers? Don't you want to keep those not elegible to have a gun not get one? The NRA can't get out of it's own way.

Posted by: jckdoors | July 15, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Why would anyone want a criminal to have a gun? Maybe they are criminals themselves...?

Posted by: 123cartoon | July 15, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

common sense dictates there should be no loophole for gun show gun sales.

but i guess gun dealers make a lot of money selling guns to people at shows specifically because they don't have to do background checks.

shame on them.

Posted by: MarilynManson | July 15, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

"Never Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Lie" should be the liberals mantra. The fact is neither the Columbine nor Va. Tech shootings would have been prevented by closing the so-called "gunshow loophole". Cho bought both his guns from a gun store and passed a background check. Harris and Klebold got their guns through a straw man purchase (already illegal) and a face to face purchase from a friend (illegal because they were not over 21, and not at a gun show). Fact is there is no "gun show loophole". Federal Firearms License holders are required to comply with all regulations whether they are sell a gun at their store or at a gun show. Private sellers are not required to perform a background check whether they are selling at their home, in a parking lot, or from a table at a gun show. The bottom line is liberals want to outlaw all private ownership of guns and they will lie, cheat, steal, obfuscate or do whatever it takes to bring about that end. The true facts show private gun ownership reduces crime or at the worst is neutral on crime. Liberals cry, "It's for the children!", all they while ignoring the results of repeated surveys showing US citizens use privately owned guns to thwart crime approximately 2 million times a year. It's a certainty that the victims of some of those crimes prevented would have been children and parents of children.

Posted by: Wasco1 | July 15, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Wasco1 wrote:

"Never Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Lie" should be the liberals mantra. The fact is neither the Columbine nor Va. Tech shootings would have been prevented by closing the so-called "gunshow loophole". Cho bought both his guns from a gun store and passed a background check. Harris and Klebold got their guns through a straw man purchase (already illegal) and a face to face purchase from a friend (illegal because they were not over 21, and not at a gun show). Fact is there is no "gun show loophole". Federal Firearms License holders are required to comply with all regulations whether they are sell a gun at their store or at a gun show. Private sellers are not required to perform a background check whether they are selling at their home, in a parking lot, or from a table at a gun show. The bottom line is liberals want to outlaw all private ownership of guns and they will lie, cheat, steal, obfuscate or do whatever it takes to bring about that end. The true facts show private gun ownership reduces crime or at the worst is neutral on crime. Liberals cry, "It's for the children!", all they while ignoring the results of repeated surveys showing US citizens use privately owned guns to thwart crime approximately 2 million times a year. It's a certainty that the victims of some of those crimes prevented would have been children and parents of children.

Good to see some rationality here; the purported "gun show loop hole" had absolutely nothing to do with Columbine or Va Tech. You gun grabbers don't fool anone; especially congress-nice waste of your time...next time, may I recommend gathering at the beach and pounding sand, it will be just as effective-Haha-you f'in progressives lost and this was your pity party-HaHa.

What the f'in progressives really want to do is ban private sales of firearms; add an outrageous transfer tax and federal registration database. So it for what it is; you f'in commies.

Posted by: civilrightist | July 15, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Wasco1 wrote:

"Never Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Lie" should be the liberals mantra. The fact is neither the Columbine nor Va. Tech shootings would have been prevented by closing the so-called "gunshow loophole". Cho bought both his guns from a gun store and passed a background check. Harris and Klebold got their guns through a straw man purchase (already illegal) and a face to face purchase from a friend (illegal because they were not over 21, and not at a gun show). Fact is there is no "gun show loophole". Federal Firearms License holders are required to comply with all regulations whether they are sell a gun at their store or at a gun show. Private sellers are not required to perform a background check whether they are selling at their home, in a parking lot, or from a table at a gun show. The bottom line is liberals want to outlaw all private ownership of guns and they will lie, cheat, steal, obfuscate or do whatever it takes to bring about that end. The true facts show private gun ownership reduces crime or at the worst is neutral on crime. Liberals cry, "It's for the children!", all they while ignoring the results of repeated surveys showing US citizens use privately owned guns to thwart crime approximately 2 million times a year. It's a certainty that the victims of some of those crimes prevented would have been children and parents of children.

Good to see some rationality here; the purported "gun show loop hole" had absolutely nothing to do with Columbine or Va Tech. You gun grabbers don't fool anone; especially congress-nice waste of your time...next time, may I recommend gathering at the beach and pounding sand, it will be just as effective-Haha-you f'in progressives lost and this was your pity party-HaHa.

What the f'in progressives really want to do is ban private sales of firearms; add an outrageous transfer tax and federal registration database. Say it for what it is; you f'in commies.

Posted by: civilrightist | July 15, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

civilrightist who doesn't appear to be wrapped too tight in my personal opinion, answers all of you who ask, why would the NRA want felons to have guns? For these conspiracy theorists, if background checks at gun shows are required, then within weeks or months the "liberals" will ban all private sales of firearms. It's kind of like saying if you make medical marijuana legal, then the next thing you know the entire nation will be hooked on crack cocaine. Question: How long has it been since background checks were required by licensed firearms dealers? Question: why can people still purchase firearms today, since according to civilrithtist the outlaw of all firearms will follow shortly thereafter? Please provide info on pending bills that seek to outlaw all firearms. Better yet, send an email to every single democtratic senator and congressperson who currently holds office and tell them you want all firearms banned. There may be a handful that will agree with you, but they will also tell you it's IMPOSSIBLE TO DO. At least 96% of them will tell you that while they do agree with common sense gun control, they do not believe firearms should be banned. gun nuts are hysterical over nothing. There is no agenda to ban firearm ownership. civilrightist, could you also please provide the list of the many bills Obama has put forth to curtail gun rights? what's that you say? He hasn't put forth one? Oh, I get it. If this loophole is passed Obama will suddenly sumbit 550 bills designed to strip citizens of the right to own firearms. morons.

Posted by: red2million | July 15, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Wasco1 is completely correct.
This "forum" was nothing more than a political bone thrown to the gun control folks.
On another note, did I really see the Washington Post print the words "so called" gun show loophole? Does this mean the WP will start looking at the facts before it prints the news? We all remember when the WP forgot to mention that the folks that stopped the Appalachian School of Law shooting used guns. Maybe things are changing.
There was a little too much anti gun stuff at the end, but for the WP, this was a balanced news article. Way to go.

Posted by: jimg9x21 | July 15, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

when will the lbertards relaize that you are either a law abiding citizen or you aren't...

it is just like locks, do they keep evereyone out..NO, just the honest peolpe...

drugs are illegal...people do drugs liek crazy

Driving over the speed limit is illegal, so? does that stop speeders?

mcdonalds kills more poeple every year than every gun realted death in America since they have been keeping track...GO CLOSE MCDONLADS...

and to that p i s s ant that lived through the VT shooting that goes to gun shows to try to make poeple do illeagal things...please arrest his worthless A S S and throw him in jail...WTF? how about if i go trying to bribe cops JUST to see who will take it, all in the name of outting evildo'ers... not legal, not part or of the solution...

ONE DAY, maybe, te anti's will learn that people that don't care about the law, DON'T CARE ABOUT THE LAW...the rest of us are just trying to live our lives, with out YOU telling me how to express my AMERICAN rights...

Live and let live, remember?

-OR-

When is it my turn to pick something aobut you that i do not like and make you change it, EVEN THOUGH it states clearly in the Constitution, the highest legal document in OUR land, says i can...

No more hair dye, it is polluting the wwater ways with color...MT FISH...NO MORE HAIR COLOR...

were taking this to the hill!!!!
s c r e w your rights toooooo...

pfffffftttttt!!!


Posted by: EnoughisEnough1 | July 15, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

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