Two family members of April 16 victims stand quietly outside the State Capitol in Richmond. They wear a single sheet of paper emblazoned with the faces of lives ended by gun violence -- Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln amongst them.
"It's education and lobbying," said Andrew Goddard, father of Colin Goddard, an April 16 survivor. "We're not doing it for our own interest in money. We're doing it out of principle."
Despite long odds with lawmakers historically hostile to gun rights restrictions and spirited opposition from groups such as the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Goddard and Lori Haas, who both had a child wounded in the April 16 shootings, are leading Virginia campaigners for gun safety.
Goddard said he advocates for responsible gun use, not the banning of guns.
"I don't want in any way to ban guns or prevent people's access to guns," Goddard said. "I do think that it's more important that we look at situations whereby people do not have the right, people who have been judged a danger to themselves and others, anybody who is likely to turn that weapon into something that kills unnecessarily."
On Tuesday, the Senate defeated a bill proposed by Democratic Sen. Henry L. Marsh III that would have required background checks on gun purchases at gun shows.
However, Sen. Charles Corgan, a Democrat from Prince William, asked for the bill to be reconsidered as he mistakenly voted against it.
On Wednesday, the bill was denied once again by a margin of 21-19.
This bill progressed further than similar bills had in years passed by virtue of making it to the floor for a full vote.
Goddard said his focus is to improve Virginia's system of monitoring gun owners.
"My interest in legislation is finding where the guns come from. The vast majority of crime guns in Virginia trace back to one or two private dealers that don't follow the regulations. Right now, there is absolutely no traction at any level to do anything about it," Goddard said.
Goddard pointed out Virginia legislators thwarted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2006 attempt to address gun dealing in Virginia.
Goddard, president of the Richmond chapter of the Million Mom March, hopes to better monitor gun purchases and licenses without invading personal liberties.
"I was looking at bills that would strengthen the background check system, that would apply background checks to as many places as possible without interfering with transfer of weapons between family, friends or in the home," Goddard said. "I don't think the government needs to reach into people's homes."
VCDL President Philip Van Cleave said any change in legislation toward background checks should implement a system where the checks are voluntary on the part of the seller.
Republican State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, endorsed by VCDL and a candidate for Attorney General, proposed this as an amendment to the defeated bill.
His amendment was not added to the bill, as it was deemed to contrast strongly with other amendments.
Goddard and others affected by the Virginia Tech shooting have clashed with the VCDL over Marsh's bill.
Friends and family of Virginia Tech victim Nicole Regina White staged a "die-in" on State Capitol grounds in early January to show support for the bill.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Goddard and Haas stood in silent protest outside a VCDL rally on the Capitol grounds.
Haas, whose daughter Emily was injured on April 16, said she disagreed with the concept of the VCDL's rally.
"The notion of having a gun rally on a holiday that honors Martin Luther King Jr., the epitome of non-violent demonstration -- I found that a little odd, if not a little disrespectful," Haas said.
Goddard said they attempted to be true to King's legacy.
"We're not into conflict. We're not into standing and screaming at people and having them shouting at you," Goddard said. "That's not our thing."
The time slot booked by the VCDL had previously been used by the Richmond chapter of the Million Mom March for a vigil honoring all those killed in Virginia during the previous year.