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Congress passes bill closing gun background check loophole

[JURIST] The US Senate and House of Representatives Wednesday passed by voice vote the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 [HR 2640 materials], which closes a loophole [JURIST report] that allowed Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho [Wikipedia profile] to purchase firearms despite a court order mandating psychiatric treatment. The US House first approved the bill [JURIST report] in June; the Senate passed an amended version of the legislation Wednesday and those amendments were subsequently approved by the House [press releases]. The legislation mandates improvements in state reporting to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) [FBI backgrounder], making record sharing automatic, and now goes to the White House for President Bush's signature. He has not yet indicated whether he intends to sign the bill.

The National Rifle Association has supported the bill [press release]; the organization does not believe it is a form of gun control [NRA report], as it only enforces current federal law and does not exclude any new parties from obtaining firearms. Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine closed the NICS reporting loophole [JURIST report] in that state by executive order [text; press release] in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings. AP has more.

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