RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia's governor said yesterday that he may be able to single-handedly close the loophole that allowed a mentally ill Seung-Hui Cho to buy the guns he used to kill 32 people at Virginia Tech.
Federal law bars the sale of guns to people who have been judged mentally defective. But it is up to states to report their legal proceedings to the federal government for inclusion in the database used to do background checks on prospective gun buyers.
In Cho's case, a special justice ordered outpatient psychiatric counseling for him in 2005 after determining he was a danger to himself.
But because Cho was never committed to a mental hospital, that order was never entered in the database.
Governor Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, said in a radio interview that he may be able to tighten that reporting requirement by issuing an executive order.
"This is the magnet we're all really focusing on. This grabbed our attention," Kaine said in an interview later in the day .
The governor also met in suburban Washington , D.C., with Korean-American leaders to assure them that Virginians do not hold people of Korean descent responsible for the tragedy. Cho was a 23-year-old South Korean immigrant who came to the United States at about age 8.