While gun dealers and stores must follow laws requiring background checks of purchasers, sellers at the numerous gun shows that are held throughout the state are deemed "private sellers" and have no such obligation. In this almost totally unregulated environment, purchasers may be mentally ill or have felony convictions and no one is the wiser.
Republicans on the commission made it clear that they will not require individual sellers to do background checks on buyers. With so many individual sellers, it would be cumbersome, impractical and unenforceable. Some suggested that an individual who sells a certain number of guns each year would have the same requirements as a licensed dealer. That too, would be clumsy and enforcement difficult.
The Roanoke Times suggests an approach that has potential to be workable, enforceable, and improve public safety by helping to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. I'll take this idea a step further. The gun show organizer would be like the dealer and individuals at the gun show who wish to make a purchase would have to produce an ID and go through the basic background check. They'd then get a "pass" that, along with an ID, would allow them to purchase guns from sellers at the show. Anyone could come into the gun show but only individuals with the "pass" could make a gun purchase.
Sure there would be ways to dodge the law (there is with any law). Someone could negotiate a deal that would be consummated later on the parking lot out of the back of a pickup.
I'm sure some would see this as a "huge" inconvenience. But, I think preventing another Virginia Tech or a single murder would be well worth the few extra steps it would take to make that gun purchase. Simply common sense.