New Ad Calls For Closure of Gun Show Loophole

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning joined relatives of those murdered at Virginia Tech two years ago to unveil a new ad pushing for the closure of the so-called gun show loophole.

CBS' "60 Minutes" explored the loophole, which exists in Virginia and a number of other states, in last night's broadcast. It allows those who are not professional gun sellers to sell weapons – including assault weapons – to buyers without a background check.

As detailed last night, the loophole means that so-called "occasional sellers" can sell guns out of their home or cars and at gun shows without background checks. At gun shows, many "occasional sellers" walk around carrying the guns over their shoulders. Attached to the guns are signs advertizing their availability.

The new ad, which comes both on the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre and the tenth anniversary of the killings at Columbine high school, features Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema was one of the 31 people killed at Virginia Tech.

"Her killer got his guns because of a gap in Virginia's gun background checks," Samaha says. "There's still another huge loophole – the gun show loophole, which allows convicted criminals to purchase guns completely unchecked."

Samaha goes on to criticize Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell for wanting to keep the loophole open.

It's important to point out that the gun show loophole is not what allowed Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho to get his guns, though Samaha maintains that "the next Cho will go to a gun show because it's that simple. It's just like buying a candy bar."

Samaha has testified before Virginia lawmakers about how at a Virginia gun show he was able to buy a dozen weapons in an hour, including an assault rifle and a Glock, without having to show identification.

I know that closing the loophole won't bring Reema back, but the question is who's sister is next," Samaha says in the spot.

The spot will air nationally beginning next week. Bloomberg, who is reportedly running for a third term as a Republican this fall after having left the party in 2007, has repeatedly complained that many guns used in crimes come to New York via Virginia and other states with looser restrictions on gun sales.

UPDATE: Reports the New York Times: "The ad is being financed by a group called Americans United for Safe Streets, a political action committee based in Washington that received $502,335 in contributions in 2008. Of that amount, $500,000 came from Mr. Bloomberg, and of the group's 12 contributors, 9 are from New York City, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."