Columbine and Va. Tech Families Take On Gun Show 'Loophole'

In Virginia, a group called Virginians for Public Safety placed an advertisement in The Richmond Times-Dispatch asking that the state’s two Democratic senators, Jim Webb and Mark Warner, get behind closing the loophole. And the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence sponsored a newspaper ad in two Colorado cities urging Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, to support ending the policy that allows the purchase of firearms at gun shows without the sort of background checks needed at federally registered gun shops.

Meanwhile, a gun rights rally on Monday attracted a crowd of Second Amendment advocates to Washington. And many who attended a smaller, separate rally across the Potomac River in Virginia were carrying firearms. (The protesters indicated that their rifles were not loaded and that their handguns would stay in their holster.)

The Virginia advertisement says that Mr. Webb declared last year that he would support background checks for sales at gun shows at a meeting with Virginia Tech families, while adding that Mr. Warner has said he would consider supporting such a move. Both Mr. Webb and Mr. Warner have a history of supporting gun rights measures while in the Senate.

The open letter to the two senators came three days after the third anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, which claimed 33 lives, and was signed by a survivor and family members of people killed or wounded. “We have seen firsthand the incredible toll that gaps in the federal background check system have on public safety, and we live with the personal toll every single day of our lives,” the spot reads in part.

Update: A spokesman for Senator Webb issued this statement: “Senator Webb is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He also believes that appropriate laws and procedures should be kept in place to ensure that guns should be kept out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. He will continue to work with his colleagues in the Senate toward both ends.”