Despite pleas from parents of Virginia Tech shooting victims and Governor Kaine, the Virginia House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted to retain a loophole allowing unlicensed firearms sales at gun shows without instant background checks of purchasers. The Republican majority prevailed in party-line voting.
Between 22 and 35 percent of Virginia firearms sales are by unlicensed sellers in private transactions or at gun shows, say police. Licensed dealers must conduct instant checks at gun shows but unlicensed sellers are exempt.
The state’s instant background checks are designed to prevent sales to felons, domestic abusers, the mentally ill and those ordered by courts to undergo mental health treatment. The last requirement was added after 32 students and faculty members were shot at Virginia Tech last year.
A Virginia Senate committee will consider a similar bill this week.
Image generated by Mike Licht.