FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, FAMILY MEMBERS OF VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING VICTIMS, AND TATYANA TIMOSHENKO - MOTHER OF FALLEN POLICE OFFICER RUSSEL TIMOSHENKO - CALL FOR CLOSING VIRGINIA'S GUN SHOW LOOPHOLE
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, more than 10 survivors and family members of victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, and Tatyana Timoshenko – mother of slain NYPD officer Russel Timoshenko – today called for closing the gun show loophole. The loophole allows some sellers at gun shows in Virginia to sell weapons without conducting a background check of the purchaser.
“It’s easier for a criminal to buy a gun at a gun show than it is for one to rent a car, or for a 20-year-old to buy a glass of beer,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Gun shows are supposed to be places where sportsmen and collectors can find products at good prices, not havens for criminals and gun traffickers.”
The push to close the gun show loophole in Virginia and across the country coincides with the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, which claimed thirty two lives, and the tenth anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado.
"I am standing in solidarity with the Virginia Tech families whose lives were also devastated by gun violence," said Mrs. Timoshenko. "My son was killed with a gun purchased from a Virginia gun store with a troubled history. To prevent future tragedies, I want to see the gun show loophole closed in Virginia and across the country."
Police Officer Russel Timoshenko was shot and killed during a traffic stop on July 9, 2007. His partner, Herman Yan, was also shot, but survived. The illegal .45 caliber Llama handgun that was used to kill Police Officer Timoshenko was traced back to a Virginia gun shop called R&B Guns whose owner was prosecuted for illegal gun sales.
Omar Samaha, a Virginia Tech graduate, who attended the event and whose sister Reema was among the victims of the shooting, recently purchased ten weapons at a Virginia gun show with no background check performed. The weapons he purchased without a background check include a Glock similar to the one that killed his sister.
Although federal law requires gun dealers to conduct background check on people purchasing weapons, it exempts so-called “occasional sellers,” who often conduct business at gun shows. The loophole provides criminals with easy access to firearms without having to worry about any background checks.
A study released in December 2008 by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, which Mayor Bloomberg co-chairs, showed guns recovered in crimes across state lines were more likely to come from Virginia than all but five other states. The report also showed that states that have yet to close the gun show loophole are sources of guns used in crimes in other states at more than twice the rate of states that require background checks for all sales at gun shows.
An April 2008 bi-partisan poll conducted jointly by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and the Tarrance Group and commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 87 percent of Americans and 83 percent of gun-owners support requiring background checks for all sales at gun shows.
Stu Loeser / Jason Post (212) 788-2958