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Va. governor seeks gun check improvements

Saturday - 4/21/2012, 1:28am  ET

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is asking other governors across the nation to improve their states' record-sharing with a national background check system for gun purchases.

Media outlets report that McDonnell made the request in a letter sent this week to all 49 other governors. The letter came as Virginia observed the fifth anniversary of the April 16, 2007, mass shootings at Virginia Tech that left 33 dead, including the gunman.

"The commonwealth of Virginia continues to be a leader in submitting information," McDonnell wrote. "I would encourage you to evaluate your state's reporting of mental health and other critical information to NICS, and take any required action relating to that reporting to prevent tragedies such as the shooting at Virginia Tech from happening again."

Following the Virginia Tech shootings, Virginia lawmakers closed a loophole in state law that had required the names of only those committed to mental hospitals to be reported to the background check system. People in Virginia who undergo outpatient treatment are now entered into the database.

"In the days and weeks following the tragic events of April 16, 2007, Gov. McDonnell, then serving as attorney general, and then-Gov. Tim Kaine worked together to increase and improve Virginia's reporting to the NICS," McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. "The governor strongly supports this very effective program, but knows that its effectiveness depends entirely on the quality and scope of the data going into the system. This letter was meant to encourage all states to participate in this information reporting and sharing."

Martin said McDonnell sent the letter after he heard from family members of the Virginia Tech victims.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)