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On the Books

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On April 24, 2007, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine announced that his State Legislature may not have to take action to correct the systemic flaw that allowed Seung Hui Cho to purchase his firearms. Kaine believes that an executive order could close the loophole by requiring Virginia to transmit mental health data to the Instant Check database.

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said yesterday that he is considering an executive order to make sure that gun sellers have more information about the mental health of potential buyers, a move that would have kept Seung Hui Cho from purchasing the handguns he used to kill 32 people at Virginia Tech last week.

A court had found Cho to be dangerously mentally ill, but that information was not available in the computer systems used by the outlets that sold Cho the guns. Kaine's proposal would ensure that such mental health information be in the database.

"I think there's a way to tighten this and to get more data onto the system," Kaine (D) said. If that data had been available at the gun stores, Cho, who killed himself after the rampage April 16, would have been barred by federal law from buying the weapons.

Traditionally "pro-gun" legislators are agreeing that the laws already on the books might have prevented Cho from arming himself. In essence, they're supporting the argument that gun control works, and that gun-control laws, effectively administered, might have prevented the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

So now we know at least one thing Governor Kaine is going to do about gun violence. And we know that it's a common-sense, correct thing to do. But it's also popular and politically safe. We need other elected leaders to follow Governor Kaine's example. They need to realize that taking steps to prevent gun violence need not be controversial.

Those opposing any and all laws restricting access to guns are quickly marginalized once people see the consequences of letting guns fall so easily into the hands of criminals and dangerously unbalanced individuals like Sueng Hui Cho.

(Note to readers: This blog entry, as well as past blog entries, are co-posted on bradycampaign.org/blog and www.huffingtonpost.com)