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 ComstockThe Memo: Never Trumpers sink into gloom as Gonzalez bows out Sunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect The Memo: Trump pours gas on tribalism with Jan. 6 rewrite 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.
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 TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE lost to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble 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.