Panel kills gun-show background checks


RICHMOND A House panel voted 15-7 on Friday to kill legislation to require criminal background checks on Virginians who want to buy firearms at gun shows.

The vote by the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee was largely along party lines: 13 Republicans and two Democrats voted to pass by indefinitely, or kill, the proposal; seven Democrats voted against that motion.

Parents and relatives of victims of last years Virginia Tech shootings urged legislators to close what they see as a loophole in gun laws: While federally licensed gun dealers must conduct criminal background checks on buyers, that requirement does not apply to gun-show vendors.

The committee held a hearing on two measures: House Bill 592, sponsored by Delegate Dave W. Marsden, D-Burke, and HB 745, by Delegate Chuck Caputo, R-Chantilly. According to summaries of the legislation, each bill adds a definition of firearms show vendor and requires that a criminal history record information check be performed on the prospective transferee before the vendor may transfer firearms at a gun show.

On a voice vote, the House committee first decided to combine the two bills. The panel then voted to kill the combined bill and quickly adjourned.

Virginia Tech parents spoke at the meeting in support of the legislation. Lori Haas of Henrico County is a parent of a student who survived the Virginia Tech shootings. During that massacre, a mentally unstable student killed 32 people before committing suicide.

The meeting was eye-opening, Haas said afterward. I think that there were many, many committee members here today that had a predetermined agenda. They had already determined their vote. They had already decided the issue without listening.

Representatives of the Virginia Center for Public Safety and the Virginia State Police also spoke in support of gun-show background checks.

Opponents of the legislation included the National Rifle Association. Among other things, opponents say the proposed regulations are misguided because the Virginia Tech shooter did not buy his weapons at a gun show.

Note: Here is how members of the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety voted Friday on a motion to pass by indefinitely (or kill) legislation to require criminal background checks at gun shows:

YEAS — Sherwood, Griffith, Kilgore, Wright, Carrico, Lingamfelter, Nutter, Athey, Janis, Cline, Gilbert, Poindexter, Merricks, Scott, J.M., Poisson — 15.

NAYS — Barlow, Shuler, Lewis, Miller, P.J., Tyler, Bowling, Moran — 7.

Result: The motion was passed by indefinitely: 15-Y; 7-N).

Source: Legislative Information Service: