Gun show loophole bill fails in General Assembly committee

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones weighed in on a controversial House Bill involving what supporters refer to as a dangerous gun show loophole.

But this particular bill won't go any further in this General Assembly session.

After much debate involving the mayor, Richmond's police chief, relatives of Virginia Tech victims, gun show dealers and promoters, the house bill requiring private collectors to secure background checks at gun shows died in committee Thursday night. But supporters say their fight is far from over.

Mayor Jones said the gun show loophole debate is nothing new in the general assembly, but one worth having again.

"This would be another tool in our arsenal to help us reduce crime," said Mayor Jones.

The failed bill, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer McClellan, would have required private gun collectors to secure criminal background checks when they sell their firearms at gun shows. Promoters would have had to provide such vendors access to licensed gun dealers who right now are required by Virginia law to do such checks.

Richmond Police Chief Bryan Norwood says the majority of guns used in crimes are stolen weapons, but are also acquired at gun shows. He was pressed as to whether a criminal would risk getting seen at such an event.

"I've had experiences with both situations. But my question to you chief, which one is more likely? Again I've had equal experiences in both instances," said Chief Norwood.

Lori Haas, whose daughter survived the Virginia Tech Massacre, said the idea wasn't to target gun shows.

"We just want their reputation restored frankly and want criminals staying away from gun shows," said Haas.

But that's not how the opposition saw it.

"I think this is really just a first step in complete registration government oversight in all private sales," said Dennis O'Connor, with the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

"I'm not surprised, but I am disappointed," said Delegate McClellan.

Senate Bill 595 which supporters say is very similar to the one that failed is expected to go before a committee next week.

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