"There's so much more that we can do that we're not doing," said Samaha, a former Virginia Tech student whose sister Reema was among the 32 people shot and killed during the April 16, 2007, rampage by Seung-Hui Cho. "We've haven't done enough as a country to prevent dangerous individuals from buying guns."
Samaha noted that Cho had a history of mental illness but his name wasn't added to the criminal background list because of failures in Virginia's social welfare system.
One expert says that it may be easier to regulate a person's ability to purchase rather than the production of the weapons themselves.
The assault weapons ban that lasted from 1994 to 2004 didn't work very well because it focused on the look of the gun rather its capabilities or who could own it, according to Robert J. Cottrol, professor of law at George Washington University.
"That was really a ban on cosmetic features and not really meaningful legislation," Cottrol said.
The ban prohibited semi-automatic weapons that had a certain kind of bayonet lug, pistol grip or flash suppressors. "None of which have any bearing on how dangerous the rifle might be," he said. "What we really need to regulate is who gets guns."