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Gun show loophole in Virginia

December 13, 2010 8:28:48 PM PST
When a gun is used in a crime in New York, there's a good chance the weapon came from Virginia.

That's because the state is the number one source for illegal guns entering the city.

Federal investigators say Virginia gun shows could be a major factor.

Saturday afternoon, Virginia resident Colin Goddard and Eyewitness News reporter Jim Hoffer entered a gun show in Roanoke.

Colin chose to go to the gun show there because it's just 40 minutes from his alma mater, Virginia Tech where three years ago, Colin nearly died after being shot four times by a deranged student.

32 of his classmates were killed.

Colin took Hoffer to the Roanoke gun show to honor his fallen classmates; he's fighting to close a loophole in Virginia law that makes it far too easy, he says, for criminals to buy guns.

In moments, Colin bought a 40-caliber semi-automatic handgun without even giving his name.

"You're able to walk out with a pistol, incredibly easy to hide," Hoffer said.

Yeah, that was the first gun we bought today for $470 bucks," Goddard said.

In less than an hour, he bought four guns, making sure each time to buy from the private sellers rather than licensed dealers because a loophole in Virginia law allows guns to be purchased privately without any paperwork.

"If I know it's so easy, I'm sure the person trying to bypass the background check also knows this is an easy way to do it. We need to not make it so easy," Goddard said.

"Why leave it open?" Hoffer asked.

"It's not open," Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said.

"But it is open. We've witnessed first hand at a Roanoke gun show just a few weeks ago and saw how easy it is for anyone including a criminal to buy a gun," Hoffer said.

"Not at a gun show," Gov. McDonnell said.

Virginia's Governor seemed unaware of just how easy it was to buy firearms at his state's gun shows which might explain why he feels background checks on private sales are unnecessary.

"Some guns there are background checks, other guns there are no checks," Hoffer said.

"Everybody that is a licensed federal firearms dealer has got to do a background check," Gov. McDonnell said.

"What about the private dealers that are there, and there are many of them?" Hoffer asked.

"The choice that we made in Virginia is to not regulate the private sales of firearms," Gov. McDonnell said.

Virginia is the number one source for illegal guns entering New York.

Eyewitness News noticed at the Roanoke show, more than a-half dozen cars with New York plates, including one loaded with gun cases.

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms tells us that in the first 10 months of this year, 35 guns used in crimes in New York City, including homicide, traced back to Virginia, where for some, talk of stricter guns laws is un-American.

"I may sell you a car today and you might get drunk, drive it and kill someone so the less big brother looking over our shoulder the better, whether you're selling a car or selling a gun," said one gun buyer.

According to federal investigators, 345 illegal guns recovered in New York City traced back to Virginia.

Also, three years ago, an NYPD officer was shot and killed by a gunman with an illegal gun that traced back to a Virginia dealer.

If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com and follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates

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