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VACP Calls for Strengthening Background Checks on Firearm Purchases

June 25, 2012 | VACP

News Image Virginia and National Law Enforcement Leadership Organizations to Hold Press Conference Tuesday in Richmond to Call for Strengthening Background Checks on Firearm Purchases; Group Meets with Virginia's U.S. Senate Candidates to Discuss Vital Public Safety Concerns

Dana Schrad, 804-338-9512
or Gwen Fitzgerald, 703-519-0008
or Mary Malina, 202-833-1460

(RICHMOND) The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) and representatives of major national law enforcement leadership organizations, which comprise the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence (NLEPPGV), will hold a joint press conference on Tuesday in Richmond. They will call for strengthening background checks on firearm purchasers to ensure that criminals and other dangerous people already prohibited by law from possessing guns are prevented from obtaining them.

The group will meet earlier in the day with candidates for Virginia's highly contested U.S. Senate seat, George Allen (R) and Tim Kaine (D). Police will discuss with candidates key public safety concerns, including expanding the background check requirement for firearm purchasers, improving the quality of record systems, and other measures to keep communities and police officers safe.

Law enforcement meetings with candidates are private. Ground rules stipulate that law enforcement leaders can share their own statements but not those of the candidates. Candidates can share any part of the discussion. The meetings are nonpartisan and informational only; they will not result in an endorsement of any candidate.

The chiefs will gather just days before Virginia's new 2012-2014 budget takes effect July 1 that contains more than $804,000 to improve the state's background check system. Citing delays on firearm purchases and arguing that the federal NICS database check was sufficient, there was an effort to do away with Virginia's more comprehensive state records check for rifle and shotgun purchasers. Rather than abandoning the state checks on long gun sales, legislators - even during a time of severe fiscal constraints - kept the Virginia checks in place and provided additional funds to improve the Commonwealth's background check system.

"We are pleased to meet with both U.S. Senate candidates and have the opportunity to discuss vital public safety matters," said Staunton Police Chief James E. Williams, 1st Vice President of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. "While we have no endorsements to offer, the candidates recognize the importance of listening to law enforcement leaders as they formulate their public safety policies. There's an urgent need to prevent criminals and other dangerous people from easily and illegally obtaining firearms. We look forward to working together to better protect the public."

"Law enforcement leaders across America have coalesced around the urgent need to prevent gun violence," said Hubert Williams, President of the Police Foundation and Chair of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of major national law enforcement leadership organizations. "Last year, nationally for the first time in 14 years, firearms were responsible for more police officers killed in the line of duty than any other cause. We must stop the killings of law enforcement and better protect citizens in our communities. Law enforcement relies on policymakers to promote laws that protect the public and police officers who put their lives on the line every day."