WASHINGTON — In the wake of Saturday’s Tucson shooting, in which a gunman killed six people and injured 13 others, family members of victims in the mass 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech are urging Congress to fix a gun background-check system that often allows people to buy firearms even after they have been convicted of crimes or judged mentally ill.
Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged shooter of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and others, fits the profile to be denied gun ownership under federal law. He has a documented history of drug abuse, including a 2007 arrest on drug charges. But like Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, Loughner was able to slip through the cracks and purchase a gun because of missing records in the background-check system that federally-licensed gun dealers consult before selling a weapon.
Congress has attempted to solve this problem before, but with unsatisfying results. In the months following the Virginia Tech shooting, lawmakers passed a bill meant to increase the number of records entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. But three years later, hundreds of thousands of records are still missing, allowing many to pass background checks they might otherwise fail.