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The gun show loophole revisited

Roughly 10 years after Columbine and two years after the Virginia Tech massacre, the families of shooting victims were back on Capitol Hill Tuesday pleading for Congress to close the gun show loophole. All they seek is for all gun purchasers to be required to pass background checks that help keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and the mentally ill.

Is that really so much to ask?

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Too many states continue to allow individuals without a dealers license to sell firearms at gunshows and thereby skirt the 16-year-old federal background check requirement. Authorities estimate that between 25 and 50 percent of vendors at gun shows are unlicensed.

Omar Samaha, whose sister was one of the 32 killed at Virginia Tech, took a network television crew to a gun show for a little experiment recently. He was able to purchase 10 guns. In an hour. No questions asked.

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A gun show purchase isn't the most common way for a criminal to get a gun as the NRA likes to point out. That's true. But it does happen (gun shows are the source for 30 percent of illegal gun trafficking, according to one ATF study, and it's where the guns used at Columbine were acquired). There's simply no need for it.

Americans have plenty of opportunities to buy a gun. Surveys show most people - even a majority of gun owners - see nothing wrong with a background check prior to a gun purchase of any type. Why not make it the law?

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