ibnlive » World

Jun 19, 2007 at 11:22am IST

Virginia: US Cong wary about gun laws

New Delhi: After last week's carnage, students will return to Virginia Tech University on Monday. But the incident has sparked off a new debate in the US.

Members of the Congress want a new law that stops people with a history of mental illness from buying guns. They want background checks to be mandatory for people with guns.

The Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui, who killed 32 people before shooting himself, had bought two handguns in Virginia.

But his mental health had not made it to a federal registry. The proposed bill would provide money to help update the registry and prevent such people from procuring guns.

The guns were sold in Virginia, the lives taken so violently just a few miles away. It is the guns bought there and used for crimes elsewhere that have long had mayors around the US angry.

With a credit card and a lie, Cho Seung-Hui was able to walk out of a pawnshop and a gun store with the handguns he later used to slaughter 32, and then kill himself. The state's background check failed to turn up his history of mental illness in each of the two sales.

Other guns sold in Virginia have surfaced in significant numbers of crimes in New York and throughout the Northeast corridor - Washington, Philadelphia, New York - inspiring Mayor Michael Bloomberg to become a crusader against gun trafficking.

Virginia is a key source for illegal guns along the East Coast, as well as a target of gun control activists for lax enforcement of its laws, though they are not the nation's loosest.

Bloomberg has taken on the issue and built a coalition with more than 200 mayors.

(With agency inputs)