Dem House candidate releases video showing lack of background checks at gun shows

A Democratic congressional candidate says a video of him purchasing an assault weapon at a gun show shows how easy it is for anyone to buy a high-powered weapon in the United States.

Dan Helmer, a Democrat running against Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockLive coverage: House holds third day of public impeachment hearings Gun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats MORE (R-Va.) in Virginia's 10th District, writes on Twitter that he found it "terrifying" how easy it was to purchase an assault rifle in the state.

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In the video shot by his campaign, Helmer, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, does not identify the specific gun model he purchases, but calls it "functionally similar" to the weapon he used while serving in the military.

"This is the same gun, same magazine I had in Afghanistan," Helmer says at one point in the video. He asks the seller whether a background check is needed to purchase it, and is told no.

In a tweet, he said that it took "less time to buy a weapon of war than a cup of coffee," noting that the purchase did not require a background check under federal law. The video had 82,000 views by Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement to The Hill, Helmer called the so-called gun show loophole that allows Americans to buy weapons from gun trade shows without a background check "insane."

"There is a huge loophole in the law that makes it legal to buy such weapons from private dealers without doing a background check. This is insane, and it is dangerous. This weapon is similar to the weapons I carried in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there's no reason it should be this easy to get one," Helmer said.

Helmer's campaign added in an email that he supports requiring background checks for purchases at gun shows, as well as an assault weapons ban, high-capacity magazine ban, and a ban on bump stocks.

Comstock did not immediately return a request for comment.

Comstock won reelection in Virginia's 10th District in 2016 with just over 52 percent of the vote, beating Democrat LuAnn Bennett in the district that President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' MORE lost to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDoes Joe Biden really want to be president? Trump team picks fight with Twitter, TV networks over political speech Why Gretchen Whitmer's stock is rising with Team Biden MORE, 42 percent to Clinton's 52 percent.

Democrats are looking at Comstock's district as a potential pickup in this fall's midterm elections, where the party is hoping to take back majorities in both houses of Congress.

--Updated at 1:42 p.m.