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Kaine, Warner tout Virginia's background check system

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier this week said Virginia’s background check system could potentially serve as a national model — and the state’s two Democratic Senators agree with him.

“There are many aspects of the Virginia background check system that are superb,” Sen. Tim Kaine said Friday after a joint event with Sen. Mark R. Warner in Northern Virginia. “We are the best state in the country in introducing mental health adjudications into the national database. Nineteen states don’t put any mental health adjudications into the national database, and some states just do a few here and there, but Virginia’s the best state in the country in doing that, so there are aspects of the way we do the background check system in Virginia that really are a national model.”

Mr. Cantor, in an interview with CNN, was referring to the system put in place after the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings that links mental health records to databases used in gun sale background checks.

“I think that we can take a lot of lessons from what Virginia did and put it in place at the federal level, because there are a lot of states that aren’t doing what Virginia is doing to try and beef up the database for the background checks to make sure that we actually can do something that does have a chance at reducing the likelihood and hopefully eliminating it from happening again,” the House of Representatives’ No. 2 Republican said.

The remarks from Mr. Cantor have given some Democrats hope that there are points on which they can agree with their colleagues across the aisle on the hot-button issue. Mr. Warner said Mr. Cantor’s comments signified “progress” in the gun debate.

“As somebody who’s had solid ratings from the NRA and somebody who’s a strong Second Amendment supporter, I know the status quo is not enough, and I do think that around background checks that we’re going to get something done, and I want to be a part of that effort,” Mr. Warner said.

He added that there should be exemptions if, for example, firearms are exchanged between family members or someone wants to lend his friend a gun at a range for skeet shooting.

“How you look at the vast amount of purchases that are made within the system right now without any appropriate checks, how we make sure that those folks — the 19 states who don’t even report those folks who have been involuntarily committed, their mental health records at least getting into the database — these are areas where reasonable people ought to agree and we can at least take a major first step,” he said.

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