Police say the suspect, who opened fire on a theater full of people, killing 12 and injuring 58 others, bought his semi-automatic military-style assault rifle legally. Colorado has no assault weapons ban and neither does Virginia. That's also the case in 41 other states.
Virginia House of Delegates Minority Leader David Toscano says an assault weapons ban would be hard to pass in Virginia's conservative leaning legislature, but he says it's a good idea.
"It's a reasonable restriction. We shouldn't have assault weapons being carried around neighborhoods or in a way criminals can get access to them," he stated.
A federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. Back then, the United States Department of Justice sponsored a report on the effects of potentially keeping the ban in place. It concluded a ban might reduce gunshot victimizations by an amount so small it may not even be measurable. Studies like that, are why gun rights advocates say gun control doesn't work.
"There [are] enough laws right now on the books to pretty well curtail the bad guys legally getting guns," said Michael Brookman, the owner of Albemarle County Firearms.
Brookman says existing laws - like those requiring a person looking to purchase a gun go through a background check - keep most people who shouldn't own a gun from getting one. He says more laws aren't the answer.
"Statistically, the FBI calls it random acts of violence. There's no real way to protect yourself against it," Brookman said.
However, Toscano says the General Assembly has made some progress, in his opinion, specifically in keeping guns away from people with mental disorders following the Virginia Tech tragedy. But, this year lawmakers also repealed Virginia's 20-year-old one handgun a month law. Toscano calls that disappointing.
Virginia 1 of 43 States With No Assault Weapons BanMore>>
Derick Waller joined the NBC 29 news team in August, 2010. Prior to this, Derick graduated with degrees in both broadcast journalism and political science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story