VT Tragedy Effect on Gun Sales

By: Mary Pulley Email
By: Mary Pulley Email

Since the April shootings at Virginia Tech, the number of people not allowed to purchase guns has more than doubled.

Mental health checks became part of the application process and people identified in the federal database as having mental problems grew from around 174,000 to nearly 400,000.

John Ritenour has been selling guns for 46 years, and is just one out of many gun shop owners in the Valley that says business has not been affected since checking for mental illness became part of the gun buying process.

"It hasn't really affected it. The time of approval hasn't increased. So far, we haven't had any turned downs at all,"says Ritenour.

Customer information was already checked from 11 different databases containing information on restraining orders and felony convictions, which are normal reasons a person's gun application may be denied.

But the recent addition of mental illness standards was something John Ritenour wanted years before the Virginia Tech tragedy.

He says, "We requested it years ago from a dealer's association, but it never got through the General Assembly, and it never got put into a process."

Currently, 28 states submit names to the mental health database. However, the federal government cannot force the remaining 22 to follow suit. For now, Ritenour is glad to see the mental health checks in place, because he says they should have been part of the process from the start.

"The new mental health issue is a database that should have been included years ago, but it just never was," says Ritenour.

While these checks are there to make gun purchasing safer, Ritenour says those who sell their guns privately and at gun shows, don't have to go through all the checks he does when selling guns at his shop.

The Department of Justice says people are included in the federal database only after courts or other lawful authorities have found them to have mental health problems.


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