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Originally published May 1, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 1, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Virginia closes loophole in gun law

The governor on Monday closed the loophole in state law that allowed the Virginia Tech gunman to buy weapons despite a court ruling that...

The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — The governor on Monday closed the loophole in state law that allowed the Virginia Tech gunman to buy weapons despite a court ruling that he was a threat and needed psychiatric counseling.

Gov. Timothy Kaine issued an executive order requiring that a database of people banned from buying guns include the name of anyone who is found to be dangerous and ordered to get mental-health treatment.

Seung-Hui Cho was told to get counseling in 2005 after a judge ruled that he was a danger to himself.

But because Cho was treated as an outpatient and never committed to a mental hospital, the court's decision was not entered into the database, which gun dealers must check before selling a weapon.

Cho did not disclose his mental-health problems or the court-ordered treatment on a form before buying the guns. "His lie on the form would have been caught" had the order been in place before Cho tried to buy the guns, Kaine said.

But it would not prevent Cho from acquiring guns by several other means that require no background check in Virginia, including buy-and-trade publications, individual transactions among gun collectors or hobbyists, and gun shows.

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