Lawmakers appalled by defeat of gun bill

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Two of Alexandrias representatives in the House of Delegates expressed their frustration and disgust this week at the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committees vote against a measure that would have closed a gun law loophole that allows the purchase of firearms at gun shows without passing a background check.

The vote, which occurred last Friday, was 13 to 9 along party lines. With the vote, the Republican majority killed two measures that required gun show vendors to check the criminal background of customers.

Alexandria Del. David Englin (D-45) said Republicans hurried the bill into the committee to avoid hearing from the families of victims of the April 16 Virginia Tech shootings.

I think it was really appalling that the Republican majority rushed the bill onto the committee docket when they learned that Virginia Tech families were going to come here to lobby on the bill, Englin said.

Because of the hurried schedule, Englin added, only a few Virginia Tech families were able to make it to Richmond following the snowstorm.

On Monday, Del. Chuck Caputo (D), the sponsor of the measure, spoke on the House floor about how disrespected the Virginia Tech families felt for not being able to voice their support of the bill, Englin said.

Alexandria Del. Adam Ebbin (D) also supports the measure and wished the committee had given families more time to get to the hearing.

I would have liked to see all the families have a chance to testify. Unfortunately the dockets arent always set up in advance, he said. I would have wished that the hearing would have been held over.

The committees majority is composed of mainly Republicans from rural areas. Del. David Nutter (R), who Montgomery district is near Virginia Tech, also voted against the measure, however.

The Republicans argued that the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech shootings, Sueng-Hui Cho, did not buy his gun at a gun show. Moreover, he also passed two background checks when he purchased the two handguns used in the massacre, they said, and the law does not prohibit selling guns in yard sales or newspaper ads without background checks.

Under the current law, only federally licensed gun vendors are required to run background checks before selling firearms.

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