House OKs Gun Bill to Limit Buys by Mentally Ill; NRA Supports Legislation for States to Share Records with FBI
Byline: Eric Pfeiffer, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Democrat-led House, responding to the Virginia Tech shootings, yesterday passed its first gun regulation law, an NRA-backed bill designed to keep mentally ill persons from illegally purchasing firearms.
The legislation, which passed on a voice vote, would require states to automate and share records with the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) database. In addition, the bill provides $250 million a year over the next three years to assist states in meeting the requirements and impose penalties on states that fail to comply with the new regulations.
"The bill the House passed today with strong bipartisan support is a step forward in improving our nation's background-check system," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. "It authorizes funding and provides practical steps to encourage states to provide timely and accurate information on individuals who are barred under current law from acquiring guns."
The bill came in response to April's killing spree at Virginia Tech when Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and faculty members before taking his own life. Cho had been ordered to undergo outpatient mental health treatment and was technically prohibited from purchasing the two guns used in the attack. However, Virginia failed to forward his information to the national background-check system.
The National Rifle Association said the bill did not represent "gun control," because it does not restrict persons currently eligible to legally purchase firearms.
"Gun owners lose nothing in the bill as it's currently written," wrote the NRA's executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, on the group's Web site. "So, why is this being called a gun-control bill? ... [T]he biggest reason the media's calling this 'gun control' is because they're desperate to report on a gun-control victory in Congress"
The only vocal opposition in the House came from Rep. …