Congressman From Virginia Tech’s District Pushed Concealed Weapon Expansion

By Justin Rood

Apr 17, 2007 1:27pm

Two months before the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history took place at Virginia Tech, the congressman for the university’s district introduced a bill to expand the use of concealed weapons permits nationwide. Rep. Rick Boucher, the Democratic congressman representing Blacksburg, Va., has received an A+ rating from the NRA as well as $60,000 in campaign contributions from the group during his time in Congress, according to the campaign finance Web site OpenSecrets.org.  The NRA has endorsed his concealed weapons bill, which he co-sponsored with Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. The two lawmakers introduced The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act on Feb. 6. If enacted, it would allow concealed weapons carriers licensed by their home state to carry their weapons in other states which also grant such licenses. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Blotter First Gun Bought March 13; No ‘Spur of the Moment’ Crime Blotter Lapse of Federal Law Allows Sale of Large Ammo Clips Blotter ‘I Want to Clear My Name’ Click Here to Check Out Brian Ross Slideshows Yesterday, 23-year-old Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on students and faculty at the southern Virginia campus using a Glock 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and a .22 caliber pistol and then shot himself. Thirty-two victims have died from his rampage, and more than 20 are injured. Virginia allows citizens to carry concealed weapons with a permit, but universities and schools such as Virginia Tech do not allow concealed weapons on campus. Boucher’s bill would not allow concealed weapons on school campuses. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. Neither Boucher nor the NRA immediately responded to requests for comment on the legislation. In a statement released yesterday, Boucher said he was "deeply saddened" by the shootings. "My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of those who were harmed in this horrific and senseless act."  The NRA yesterday also released a brief statement to say it "joins the entire country in expressing our deepest condolences to the families of Virginia Tech University and everyone else affected by this horrible tragedy." "We will not have further comment until the facts are known," the group’s statement concluded.
Rep. Stearns, who has sponsored similar bills every years since 1995, said in a emailed statement that while he saw "no apparent connections" between the Virginia Tech shootings and his bill, "it has been noted that an armed murderer was stopped in 2002 by armed students" at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. The details of that incident have been debated. Some reports at the time noted the shooter’s gun was empty, and one participant said the shooter had put down his gun before he knew the students were armed. In Congress since 1989, Boucher has voted against bills supported by gun control advocates 90 percent of the time, a 2006 study by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence found.  He twice voted for bills that would bar Americans from suing gun manufacturers when their products are misused. Jake Tapper contributed to this story. This post has been revised.

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