Bloomberg Pushes Virginia to Close 'Gun-Show Loophole'

PHOTO New York Mayor Bloomberg (right) launched a television ad in Crystal City, Va., on April 13, 2009, featuring Omar SamahaFerdous Al-Faruque/ABC News
New York Mayor Bloomberg (right) launched a television ad in Crystal City, Va., on April 13, 2009, featuring Omar Samaha (left), the brother of a Virginia Tech shooting victim.

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg launched a television ad Monday pressuring Virginia's Republican candidate for governor to get behind closing the commonwealth's gun-show loophole.

"This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. This is not the right to hunt. It's not the right to bear arms. Plain and simple it is to enforce a federal law that says you can't sell guns to criminals," said Bloomberg in Crystal City, Va.

The television commercial, which is timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, on April 16, features Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema, was one of 32 people killed in the massacre. As featured Friday on ABC News' "20/20", Samaha recently attended a Virginia gun show and easily acquired 10 guns, including a Glock similar to the one that killed his sister, with no background check, in less than an hour.

In the 30-second ad, which begins airing Tuesday and will air statewide in Virginia on broadcast and cable television, former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell is hammered for not wanting to prohibit private sellers at gun shows from selling guns without background checks.

"I know that closing the loophole won't bring Reema back, but the question is whose sister is next?" asks Samaha in the ad. "Ask Bob McDonnell why he's protecting criminals instead of protecting us?"

Watch the ad here:

McDonnell campaign manager Phil Cox responded to Bloomberg's ad by issuing a statement, saying, "Bob McDonnell supports background checks for all sales made by licensed gun dealers at Virginia gun shows."

Samaha fired back with a written statement accusing McDonnell of attempting to confuse voters.

"Bob McDonnell is attempting to mislead Virginians into believing that he supports background checks for gun sales," said Samaha. "But his statement only refers to 'licensed' gun dealers who are already mandated by federal law to conduct background checks."

Bill to Close Gun Show Loophole Failed by Two Votes in Va. Senate

"The gun show loophole is a gap in the law precisely because it applies to unlicensed, so-called 'occasional' dealers who sell weapons at gun shows," Samaha continued. "I myself recently bought 10 guns in just one hour from dealers at a gun show in Richmond without even having to present a driver's license, much less undergoing a background check. Criminals purchase guns in the same way every day."

McDonnell is the presumptive Republican candidate for governor of Virginia. The three Democrats in the race -- former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, former state Rep. Brian Moran and state Sen. Creigh Deeds  -- all support closing the gun-show loophole as does incumbent Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine.

A bill to close the gun show loophole failed by two votes in the Virginia state Senate earlier this year.

Monday is not the first time that Bloomberg has crossed swords with McDonnell.

Back in 2006, when Bloomberg filed a federal lawsuit against 27 gun dealers in five states, including several in Virginia, McDonnell threatened felony charges against the billionaire mayor and any New York City law enforcement agents who tried to purchase guns undercover.

Asked why he is focusing his television ad campaign on Virginia, Bloomberg said, "Because it's the anniversary of Virginia Tech and because one of my constituents and one of my employees, a young police officer in the NYPD, was murdered with a gun coming from Virginia."

While the ad released Monday is focused on closing Virginia's gun-show loophole, Bloomberg also called on President Obama to make good on his campaign promise to close the federal gun-show loophole.

"He campaigned on change and this is a change that really would be good for this country," said Bloomberg.

The ad is paid for by "Americans United for Safe Streets," a group which is almost entirely funded by Bloomberg.

"I've given a lot of money to this organization that's run the ad," said Bloomberg. "I'll continue to do this until we win the battle and the battle is not to end the Second Amendment, the battle's not to end hunting, the battle is simply to keep guns out of the hands of criminals."