NRA Ramps Up Campaign Against Proposed Gun Control Measures
(CNN) — As Vice President Joe Biden heads to Connecticut on Thursday in a bid to generate support for sweeping gun control proposals, the National Rifle Association is trying to flex its political muscle by ramping up its campaign to oppose those initiatives.
On Thursday, readers in local newspapers in five key states – Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina and West Virginia – will see an NRA ad headlined in bold: “Will Obama’s gun control proposals work? His own experts say ‘No,'” the group told CNN.
Those states are home to several Democratic incumbent senators who are expected to face tough re-election fights. They include Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
The ad campaign is also focused on West Virginia because Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is retiring and Maine, where moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins is also up for re-election next year.
The NRA is spending about $350,000 on this campaign, a source familiar with it told CNN, which includes not only the local newspaper ads, but regional ads as well as online commercials.
The ads include a note at the end to call their senator and to tell him or her “oppose Obama’s gun control proposals.”
The NRA is highlighting in its new ads, as it first did in a web video last week, a January internal Justice Department memo, obtained by the group, that raises questions about the effectiveness of some of the gun control proposals the administration is pushing. The document entitled “Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies” examines prior research on whether some of these ideas have worked in the past, such as restricting large capacity magazines, universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and gun buy back programs.
The document, written by the deputy director of the Justice Department’s research arm the National Institute of Justice, said reducing the availability of such magazines “could have an effect on the total number of homicides,” that the 1994 ban had “limited effectiveness,” and a new ban would need to be coupled with a massive reduction in supply. Regarding an assault weapons ban the memo stated: “Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicides and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapons ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence.”
“The NRA ad is an outrageous misrepresentation of the president’s commonsense proposals to reduce gun violence, based on an incomplete review of gun violence research,” an administration official told CNN last week. “The ad claims that in order for our proposals to work, we would have to confiscate guns and create a national gun registry. That is simply not true. The president strongly believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms, and the administration has never supported a gun registry or gun confiscation.”
“The ad is based on unofficial views and proposals that reflect an incomplete review of research on gun violence and do not represent the position of the Department of Justice or the administration,” the official said.
The Obama administration and its supporters are also trying to exert leverage and build public support for the sweeping proposals.
Besides Biden’s appearance on Thursday at a Danbury gun violence conference, he sat down for a Facebook town hall with Parents Magazine earlier this week.
The advocacy group put together by President Barack Obama’s former campaign aides, Organizing for Action, sent an e-mail to supporters saying “we need to demand” votes in Congress on these measures and asked them to send their personal stories about gun violence and how to reduce it.
The administration and its backers know overcoming the power and the influence of the NRA will be very difficult – but will also be instrumental if they are going succeed.
The NRA has been successful in the past in thwarting gun control legislation by building support at the grass roots level, and that is where the group is focusing much of its efforts right now.
The NRA has seen its membership rise to record levels as the gun control debate has raged since the Newtown school massacre in December. Group officials man booths at gun shows to not only build membership but to urge attendees to lobby against the proposals.
Besides new print ads, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNN the organization is tripling the buy of a web video run on various news sites. Last week CNN was the first to report the group bought $100,000 worth of ad time to air the video on various news web sites in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Colorado, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia, Arulanandam said.
Each of the five states has a Democratic senator seeking re-election in 2014.
To help get its message out the NRA is also airing online ads in 15 states (Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia) – many of which will see competitive Senate races next year.
The Hill newspaper first reported the new print ad campaign.
By Kevin Bohn – CNN Senior Producer
CNN Political Director Mark Preston and Justice Producer Terry Frieden contributed to this story
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