Two rallies by gun rights celebrants and anti- government polemicists are planned Monday on both sides of Washington's Potomac River. They will invoke the Second Amendment and the Battles of Lexington and Concord. A more apt, and tragic, anniversary to keep in mind is the Columbine school massacre of 1999. Eleven years later, and Congress has failed to close the gun show loophole that made the carnage possible.
Two Columbine students had a friend obtain four high-powered weapons, no-questions-asked, from gun show "hobbyist" dealers, and then used them to kill 12 children and a teacher. Since then, the gun lobby and its all-too-willing Congressional enablers have managed to block all efforts to require buyers at weekend gun shows to undergo the same background checks required of buyers at federally registered gun shops.
Polls show the public favors closing the gun show loophole by a wide margin, but the people's right to safety is nothing when compared with the gun lobby's clout.
At a park in Virginia just across from the nation's capital, marchers will be openly strutting with their weapons, as the state's "open carry" law permits. Participants at the other rally on the National Mall are being told that it is illegal to flash guns, so they must dare to leave them home. Just up the Hill in Congress, the gun lobby's ever-compliant caucus is fighting that ban too.
One hundred or so lawmakers have shown more courage and sense, signing on to a bill - sponsored by Representatives Carolyn McCarthy, Democrat of New York, and Michael Castle, Republican of Delaware - to close the gun show loophole. It is hard to imagine the founding patriots would not support this legislation. It demands the political courage to value human life over the bravado of the gun culture.