In Virginia, licensed gun dealers (known as Federal Firearms Licensees, or FFLs) are required to conduct a criminal background check on each and every individual they sell a gun to. However, due to a loophole in federal and state law, unlicensed sellers are also allowed to sell firearms at Virginia gun shows without conducting background checks on purchasers. The Virginia State Police report that between 22 and 35 percent of the firearms sellers at Virginia gun shows do not possess an FFL and are not required by law to perform background checks. This dangerous gun show loophole allows criminals and other prohibited purchasers to obtain firearms without any paper trail or accountability.
We, the undersigned, urge you to pass legislation during the current legislative session to close the gun show loophole in Virginia.
We know that background checks work. In 2005, the Virginia State Police reported that background checks by licensed dealers prevented 2,668 illegal gun transactions in Virginia. It is time to extend background checks to all gun sales in Virginia so that we can be certain that those buying guns in the Commonwealth are indeed "law-abiding citizens." This is the minimum that we should do to honor not only those lost at Virginia Tech, but also the 800 other Virginians lost to gun violence every year.
Governor Kaine's Executive Order No. 50 was important and praiseworthy, but additional measures are necessary to prevent dangerous individuals from purchasing firearms in the Commonwealth. Passing legislation to require background checks on all firearms sales at gun shows is a good, common-sense next step to protect public safety in Virginia.
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