Video Report:

Va. Tech Families Plead With Congress To End Gun Show Loop Hole

Date created: 1/30/2008 6:30:51 PM
Last updated: 2/1/2008 3:25:21 PM

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- One victim and several family members from the Virginia Tech massacre spoke at a news conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday advocating the passage of a federal bill that would require background checks at gun shows.

The families wear their pain publicly.

"I don't want anybody else to have to learn about gunshot wounds. You know, they don't sew them up. You watch your child, or whoever it is, as it bleeds, bleeds, bleeds," says Andy Goddard, whose son Colin was shot four times by Seung Hui Cho at Virginia Tech on April 16th.

They don't sew up gunshot wounds because that would risk infection. There were 15 people with gunshot wounds that day who had to let those wounds bleed and bleed, but they were the lucky ones.

Cho killed 32 people, then killed himself. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Cho had a history of mental illness. He purchased his guns legally at gun stores. The loophole which allowed a mentally dangerous person to buy guns in Virginia has been closed. But Cho could've still purchased those guns at a gun show without any background check. That's why the families say a federal law needs to be passed.

Lilly Habtu, of Woodbridge, still has a bullet in her jaw. Hatbu said, "My family and I suffered more than enough. We don't want anyone else to have to suffer like we have."

The families say Virginia lawmakers turned their backs on them last week by defeating a bill that would've required background checks at gun shows. Now, they're asking Congress to do it.

Pat Craig is the aunt of Ryan Clark, the Resident Adviser at the Tech dormitory West Ambler Johnson where Cho began his rampage that morning.

"When a person does not have the sense of right or wrong...he should not have access to a gun," says Craig.

Congress has considered this bill before. Nine years ago, two teenage boys killed thirteen people at Columbine High School in Colorado. Now, after Virginia Tech, the bill is back.

Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) are sponsors.

Gun rights advocates say the bill would take away their rights.

Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of says "Because federal law bans 18 -20 year olds from purchasing handguns from dealers, the bill's requirement that all gun sales at gun shows go through dealers amounts to a handgun ban for 18-20 year olds, even though under federal law 18-20 year olds may own handguns."

Also, he says background checks don't tell you what's going to happen in the future. He believes it's important for people to have the right to defend themselves with guns if they chose.

The mother of Kevin Sterne, who barely survived Cho's bullets, says there needs to be compromise.
Suzanne Grimes says, "We're not against the right to bear arms. We just want to keep weapons out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them to protect this country."

While Seung Hui Cho purchased his guns legally at gun stores, the Columbine shooters used guns obtained from gun shows.

Written by Peggy Fox