Washington, DC—Survivors and family members of the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy today released a statement, a day before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is to host a forum on legislation to close the gun show loophole. The forum will be at 2:00 PM Wednesday, July 14, in the House Judiciary Committee hearing room, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.
Statement of Virginia Tech Survivors and Family Members
The families of the victims, the survivors and their families would all like to thank Congressman Bobby Scott for his leadership on this critical public safety issue.
After the massacre at Virginia Tech, Governor Kaine created the Virginia Tech Review Panel comprised of eight nationally recognized and respected individuals with a wide variety of expertise The panel eventually produced an extensive report which included 81 specific recommendations covering: improved laws, policies, procedures, systems and institutions of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the operation of public safety agencies, medical facilities, local agencies, private providers, universities and mental health delivery systems.
From the beginning we, the families of the victims, the survivors and their families, gave our support to the panel members and, after the report was presented, to the agencies and legislators charged with implementing the recommended changes. Virtually all of the recommendations were acted upon with one glaring exception, that being: "Virginia should require background checks for all firearm sales, including those at gun shows."
The panel recognized the importance of limiting the ease of access to firearms for people that have been judged to be a danger to themselves or others due to severe mental illness. They also recognized that any improvements in the procedures that identified individuals prohibited from buying firearms due to mental illness through the NICS background check system, would be totally ineffective if some types of commercial firearm sales are allowed to continue to circumvent the background check system. Gun shows are one of the most popular public venues where firearms can be sold or exchanged between total strangers without the need for a background check on the purchaser.
Virginia has yet to close this "Gunshow Loophole," however, this problem is not limited to the confines of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but rather extends across all 37 states that still allow the public sale of firearms without a background check.
Background checks on purchasers attempting to buy firearms from licensed dealers have prevented 1.8 million ineligible sales over the years that the Brady law has been in effect. The vast majority of background checks currently take less than a few minutes to complete and present no obstacle to eligible firearms buyers.
We know from firsthand experience the pain and devastation that can result when a person prohibited by law from owning or possessing firearms can nevertheless gain easy access to them and use them to maim and kill. That is why we are asking the Federal Government to step in and enact legislation to make it more difficult for dangerous people to obtain dangerous weapons.
The following Virginia Tech survivors and families members have expressed strong support for closing the gun show loophole:
Kristina Heegar Anderson
Michael & Jeri Bishop
Dennis & Beverly Bluhm
Jim & Susan Carney
Darryl, Cassandra & Alisha Carver
Daniel & Alicia Farrell
Anne and Andrew Goddard
Joseph and Mildred Granata
Paul and Karen Granata
Steve and Anne Granata Macy
John & Suzanne Grimes
Lori & Channing Haas
Joanne M. Hawley
Michael T. Herbstritt
Eric, Elizabeth & Erica Hilscher
Angela & Justin Jones
Diane & Ross Klein
Tracy M. Lane
William F. O’Neil & Jeanne Dube
Peter & Cathy Read
Joe & Mona Samaha
Faith & Roger Shepherd
Paul & Susan Turner
Mark and Harriet Twigg
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities. The Brady Campaign works to pass and enforce sensible federal and state gun laws, regulations, and public policies through grassroots activism, electing public officials who support common sense gun laws, and increasing public awareness of gun violence.
Protest Easy Guns is a grassroots protest movement of Americans that emerged in response to the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history at Virginia Tech. We are outraged at how easy it is to obtain a gun in the United States and believe it is time to change lax laws that allow criminals and dangerous individuals easy access to guns. Each of the movement’s “Lie-In” protests includes 32 individuals (symbolizing the number of students and teachers murdered at Virginia Tech) who lie on the ground for just a few minutes (signifying the brief amount of time it takes to buy a gun in the United States). Our goal is to encourage like-minded citizens to stage their own protests around the country so that we can influence the public discourse and ultimately the legislative process with regard to this critical national problem.