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Va. lawmakers go undercover at gun show

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RICHMOND, Va. -

Two Northern Virginia lawmakers have posted an online video of themselves easily buying a handgun and a high-capacity ammunition clip at a recent gun show. They are trying to talk their fellow legislators into making gun transactions somewhat more restrictive.

Their fight will be an uphill one. The Virginia legislature is quite gun-friendly. Even visitors can bring handguns into the statehouse, if they have a concealed-weapons permit. And in Virginia, those permits are easy to get.

The legislative session is now in full swing here with committees considering hundreds of bills. Delegate Patrick Hope and Sen. Adam Ebbin have companion bills they call "gun safety legislation." Both men recently attended a huge gun show in Chantilly, and with a hidden camera, they showed how easy it is for anyone to purchase a handgun and a high-capacity ammunition clip.

"We wanted to see for ourselves just how easy it is to purchase a gun without a criminal background check," explained Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington). "I was stunned it was easier than I even thought. In fact, you go around and ask people, ‘Where can I buy a gun without a criminal background check?' And people point out the different dealers that you could do that. It was easier than I imagined and I was shocked."

In the video, the private seller jokes about the lack of a background check: "You're not a felon. You're not a felon this week. (laughter) Next week, we donut count." The delegate lays out $175 in cash and purchases a .22 caliber pistol.

Senator Adam Ebbing (D-Arlington/Alexandria) spent $20 and purchased high-capacity ammunition magazine.

"I bought a 30-round ammunition magazine that can be used lethally," said Ebbing in an interview. "And this is the same sort of device that [was] be used in Newtown, Conn. to take 20 innocent childrens' lives and six brave adults' lives."

The two legislators are trying to talk the general assembly into requiring background checks for every weapons transaction. They also want to make it a crime for anyone to sell (or give) a weapon to someone who is mentally ill, and they want to ban high-capacity magazines. Yet another bill would keep weapons out of the Virginia Statehouse.

Those who favor gun rights are expected gather here in great numbers on Monday. Their message to legislators will be: do not restrict sales; society is safer when people can choose to protect themselves with firearms.


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