It looks like background checks do work. The Associated Press says that background checks in Virginia have stopped 16,000 felons purchasing guns since the checks started 24 years ago:

Virginia's background check system has prevented 54,260 people, including more than 16,000 felons, from buying guns since it began in 1989.

The total number of transactions denied from 1989 to 2012 also includes drug abusers, the mentally ill and domestic assault offenders, Virginia State Police records show.

In addition, the AP said that three times as many people were denied between 2007 and 2012 because of mental health concerns after mental health records became part of the process.

A poll was taken last month, and it showed that 92 percent of Virginia residents are in favor of background checks. Another 60 percent think purchases should be limited to one per month, which was a law until it was overturned last year. Lastly, results showed that 59 percent of residents think that high-capacity magazines should be outlawed. 

[via DCist]