Editor, The Richmond Times Dispatch
It is hard to overstate the outrage we felt when your editorial (Gun Shows, 11/28/10) presented gun violence victims as an accounting exercise, arguing that background checks for private sales at gun shows will not save that many lives. Lives lost to gun violence is a flesh and blood issue for us. RTD’s position is morally indefensible.
There is no question that criminals and people with serious mental illness can buy guns from private sellers at gun shows in Virginia without a background check. Just ask the Virginia State Police, who arrested 64 prohibited purchasers at gun shows in 2009. We’ve done it ourselves - buying firearms too numerous to carry, including a gun identical to the one used to kill and injure our loved ones at Virginia Tech, with no questions asked---and no records of the sale.
The fact that the sources of guns used to kill 170 police officers could not be traced is exactly why background checks for all sales at gun shows are essential. Background checks work: in 2009, over 2,000 prohibited purchasers, including 195 people with serious mental illness were blocked from purchasing firearms. Unfortunately, private sellers at gun shows are still an easy place for enterprising criminals to obtain weapons.
RTD’s position is the equivalent of inviting a burglar into your house and being surprised when things go missing. How many more lives do we need to lose in order to be convinced that the Gun Show Loophole poses a major threat to public safety? We hope Virginia lawmakers will see through these misleading arguments and have the courage to close the Gun Show Loophole. Lives are at stake.