A CANDIDATE in Fairfax County has gone ballistic with a loaded attack on a member of the Virginia House. Negative campaign material mailed out by Democratic challenger George Lovelace includes a portrayal of his GOP opponent, Jeanmarie Devolites, as a gun-lobby favorite willing to "put the interests of her pro-gun friends ahead of the safety of our kids."

The Lovelace mailer includes close-up photos of a bullet, a trigger being pulled and a small child in the cross-hairs of a gun sight. The caption with the trigger photo says, "When Jeanmarie Devolites opposed efforts to protect our children from guns . . ."; and continues under the photo of the child in the gun sight, "she forgot who the target was."

In response to the Lovelace attack, Ms. Devolites has secured an endorsement from Handgun Control Inc. Chairman Sarah Brady: "Jeanmarie Devolites has a strong record of supporting common sense gun control legislation in the Virginia House of Delegates. She is an advocate for Handgun Control's agenda of preventing and reducing firearm deaths and injuries."

Ms. Devolites has campaigned in the past in support of trigger locks and mandatory minimum sentences of five years for anyone convicted of possessing a firearm on school grounds. She says she has "never received a dime" from gun lobbies. When a proposal to allow Fairfax to ban guns from county-owned recreation centers was facing a tie vote in committee that would have killed it, Ms. Devolites explains, she voted in a majority to refer the bill to another committee to "try to give it a second chance." Some opponents of that move said the referral votes were orchestrated by gun groups to kill the bill.

Mr. Lovelace lost last time to Ms. Devolites. This year, the new ammunition that he has chosen ought to be stashed before it hits his other foot.