Virginia Emotional pleas by relatives of Virginia Tech shooting victims failed Friday to persuade a legislative committee to close a loophole that allows criminals and the mentally ill to buy firearms at gun shows.
The House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted 13-9 to kill legislation that would require unlicensed sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks on buyers. Such checks now are required only on transactions by federally licensed gun dealers.
Thirty-two people were killed at Virginia Tech on April 16 by a mentally disturbed student who committed suicide as police closed in.
Gun-rights advocates who opposed the bill noted that the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, did not buy his weapon at a gun show. He had been ruled a danger to himself during a court commitment hearing in 2005 and was ordered to receive outpatient mental health care - but he never received the treatment.