Governor Kaine got it wrong; we need to correct him.

These remarks are excerpted from Gov. Kaine’s State of the Commonwealth address last night.  He used the Virginia Tech tragedy to play his card.  My comments in bold:

            Since 1991, Virginia has required that anyone purchasing any type of firearm from a licensed dealer undergo a background check.  This instant, computerized check is designed to prevent a felon or other dangerous individual from buying a gun.  This law was a huge advance in public safety in this Commonwealth, protecting average citizens and our law enforcement professionals from harm. This is still the case; anyone buying from a licensed dealer must pass the instant background check.

However, a loophole still exists in this important measure.  Anyone can walk into a gun show and purchase a firearm without the background check.  Fallacious logic.  Anyone can go anywhere in the commonwealth and buy a firearm from a private owner.  There are no laws that are suspended at gun shows.


I support 2nd Amendment rights, and I believe that Virginia’s laws generally strike the right balance of protecting that right consistent with public safety.  But, if we are to enforce current law keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, we must require instant background checks for purchase of weapons at gun shows.  We do that. 


There is no reason for law-abiding gun owners or gun sellers to oppose the instant check.  No gun dealers oppose this instant check.  Only private sellers needn’t perform a background check.  They can be held liable, though, if they sell to someone they know is prohibited by law from owning a firearm.  In fact, most purchasers go through such a check every time they buy a gun.  It’s instantaneous, it creates no permanent record of the transaction, and it will keep weapons away from people whom the law has determined should not have them.  I would think a lawyer (Gov Kaine) would understand IT WILL NOT DO SO.  It will not prevent people from buying weapons from others who own weapons.  It will only prevent it at gun shows.


Why should we allow felons, or people with serious mental illnesses, or domestic abusers who have been constrained by protective orders to buy weapons at gun shows in violation of clear state and federal law?  Now he’s playing to your emotions, with more fallacious logic.  We DO NOT let these people buy guns at gun shows in violation of law.  Private sellers have a responsibility to know who they’re selling to.  Dealers at gun shows do the background checks.  If we fail to take this important step, we are leaving the door open for these dangerous individuals to gain easy access to guns so that they can harm other people.  But under Kaine’s proposals, he can go to his next-door-neighbor and steal the weapon.  He can go to a black marketer.  He can go to hundreds of people on back streets and buy guns, usually much cheaper than at a gun show.


While we have worked here in Richmond to respond to the April tragedy, Virginia’s colleges and universities have also taken actions.  They have strengthened relationships with local mental health agencies and law enforcement.  They have implemented new ways of communicating with students and faculty in an emergency.  And all schools are working together, to share ideas and best practices to make their campuses safer. Which has nothing to do with this imagined “loophole”.  In a recent test, over 60% of those WHO HAD SIGNED UP for the emergency alerts actually received them.  Cho didn’t buy his guns at a gun show.  Cho passed a background check.  Virginia Tech prohibits students, faculty, and staff from carrying weapons on campus.  Where is the best practice in any of this? And how does it relate to the legislation he is proposing?


We will continue to work together with our colleges and universities, keeping our focus on what they need to protect and serve students and staff.


I prefer to think Kaine got it wrong, and not that he’s a hypocrite.  The jury’s still out.

Published in: on January 10, 2008 at 8:01 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. “It’s instantaneous, it creates no permanent record of the transaction, and it will keep weapons away from people whom the law has determined should not have them.”

    This is a serious fallacy as well. the dealers performing these checks are required to have forms filled out (4473), and they must maintain those records. If the shop closes then the records must be given over to the ATF. As such, while the NICS check in and of itself may or may not create a permanent record, such a record is created in the process, making this a fallacious statement.

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