Virginia Tech Killer Used Easy-To-Get Guns

Target practice

A well-placed law enforcement source tells CBS News the weapons used in the massacre were a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and .22-caliber pistol.

Both are readily available in gun shops across the United States and particularly accessible in the commonwealth of Virginia, which recently earned a C-minus rating by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

"It's much too easy to get guns in the state of Virginia," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center.

That's in part because there's no gun registration, no mandatory waiting period to purchase weapons. The only major restriction: a limit of one gun purchase per month.

It remains unclear where the shooter purchased his pistols, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports.

But CBS News discovered there was a gun show just 25 miles from Blacksburg last weekend where 405 guns were sold.

The magazine containing ammunition for the 9 mm handgun can carry between eight and 24 bullets, rapidly fired, and quickly reloaded.

Today the National Rifle Association "expressed its deepest condolences" to all those "affected by this horrible tragedy."

Meanwhile, a former campus police chief at Virginia Tech told CBS News that in recent years the school had bucked the state legislature and hunting culture and took steps to safeguard its student population. It required all guns be checked with campus police, collecting hundreds at a time.

Ironically, the school specifically banned the possession of firearms in dormitories or classrooms — the exact locations of today's unthinkable violence.