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Local gun store owners mixed on loophole

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

By AMANDA BUCK - Bulletin Staff Writer

Two local gun store owners said Monday they are reluctant to see Virginia impose more regulations on gun sales, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested earlier in the day.

Mark Tosh, president of Town Gun Shop and Town Police Supply in Collinsville, said he opposes legislation that would close the so-called "gun show loophole."�

According to The Associated Press, the loophole allows what are called "occasional sellers" at gun shows to sell weapons without conducting the background checks required of licensed firearms dealers.

Changing the law would not prevent people who are determined to procure a weapon from doing so, Tosh said.

"Let's just say hypothetically they close it (the loophole) off," he said. Customers and occasional sellers will "just meet elsewhere than the gun show. They're closing one door but turning around and making the sale somewhere else."�

Although a change in the law could force occasional sellers to meet the same requirements Tosh must abide by at his store, he said it might be the beginning of a slippery slope that could lead to too much regulation.

"The problem is, where does it stop?" he said of regulations. "Would it stop at this point? Unfortunately, I don't believe that it would."�

David Haskins, who owns Southern Gun on Virginia Avenue in Bassett, said he has mixed feelings about closing the loophole.

"As a private citizen, I think they ought to leave things alone," Haskins said, explaining that he does not think the government should place more restrictions on gun sales. However, "as a gun store owner, I think they (occasional sellers) ought to have to do background checks."�

That requirement could end up benefiting his business, Haskins said.

Nevertheless, he said he is not a strong supporter of changing the law.

"I'm not going to cry if it passes; I'm not going to cry if it doesn't pass," Haskins said. "I guess I'm straddling the fence."�

Legislation that would have closed the loophole was rejected by the General Assembly in February. On Monday, Bloomberg unveiled a television ad, which he largely funded, that criticizes Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell for "want(ing) to keep the loophole open."�

According to the AP, the ad features Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema, was killed in the April 16, 2007, shootings at Virginia Tech. Omar Samaha supports closing the loophole.

 

 
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